Short Stories - Harry Chapin Web Site
b. 1942 d.1981
b. 7 December 1942, New York, USA, d. 16 July
1980. The son of a big band drummer, Chapin played in the Brooklyn
Heights Boys’ Choir and during his teens formed a group with his
brothers, Tom and Stephen. Immensely talented as a writer and
film-maker, he directed the Oscar-nominated Legendary Champions in 1968,
after which he returned to music. In 1971, he formed a group with John
Wallace (bass), Ron Palmer (guitar) and Tim Scott (cello) and played in
various clubs in New York. The following year, he was signed to Elektra
Records and his debut HEADS AND TALES and the six-minute single
"Taxi" enjoyed minor success in the US charts. Chapin's
strength as a writer was already emerging in the form of fascinating
narrative songs, which often had a twist in the tale.
"W-O-L-D," an acute observation of the life of a local disc
jockey, went on to become something of an FM radio classic. In 1974,
Chapin secured the US Christmas number 1 single with the evocative
"Cat's In The Cradle," a moral warning on the dangers of
placing careerism above family life. In the song, the neglectful father
realizes too late that he has no relationship with his son, who abandons
him in his old age. Despite the quality of the recording, it made
surprisingly little headway in the UK, failing even to reach the Top 40.
With a series of albums, strongly narrative in tone, it was clear that
Chapin was capable of extending himself and in 1975 he wrote the
Broadway musical revue, The Night That Made America Famous. That same
year, he also won an Emmy award for his musical work on the children's
television series, 'Make A Wish'. By 1976, Chapin was still enjoying
immense success in his homeland and his double live album GREATEST
STORIES—LIVE received a gold record award. During the late '70s, he
became increasingly involved in politics and was a delegate at the 1976
Democratic Convention. He also played many benefit concerts, raising
millions of dollars in the process. In 1980, he switched labels to the
small Boardwalk. The title track to his album SEQUEL, which was a story
sequel to his first hit "Taxi," gave him his final US Top 30
entry. On 16 July, while travelling to a benefit concert, his car was
hit by a truck in Jericho, New York and the singer was killed. A Harry
Chapin Memorial Fund was subsequently launched in honour of his memory.
The Story of A Life
December 7th - Born in New York City to Jean Elspeth Burke and James
Chapin moves to Brooklyn Heights; joins Grace Church Choir.
Chapin Brothers ("a pre-pubescent Kingston Trio") is formed.
Chapin graduates from Brooklyn Technical High School.
(June) Enters U.S. Air Force Academy.
(September) Enters Cornell University; major: Architecture.
First film job at Drew Associates.
Re-enters Cornell; major: Philosophy.
Writes first song: Stars Tangled in Her Hair.
Full-time music with Chapin Brothers - their album Chapin Music! is
released on Rock-Land Records.
Film job in Los Angeles making airline commercials.
Film job at Canton, Inc. in NY - writer and director.
Travels to Ethiopia with Jim Lipscomb to make a film for World Bank -
Harry saw and filmed victims of Third World Poverty.
Marries Sandy Gaston with her three children Jaime, Jono, Jason.
Works on Al Lowenstein's Congressional Campaign.
Songwriting job for ABC-TV, working on new weekly half-hour children's
show, Make A Wish.
Jennifer Elspeth Chapin, daughter, born (July).
Forms 4-piece band (featuring former Grace Church Choirboy, John
Wallace), works as opening act for the Chapins at The Villa.
Signed recording contract with Elektra Records' Jac Holzman.
First album Head and Tales produced by Holzman released. Single, Taxi
reached #18 on Billboard Singles chart.
Joshua Burke Chapin, son, born.
Grammy Nomination: Best New Artist of the Year.
Sniper and Other Love Songs 2nd album is released. Contains song Circle,
which was a #1 hit record - by The New Seekers - in Europe.
Receives Billboard Magazine Trendsetter Award.
Short Stories released; single W.O.L.D hits Billboard Singles chart.
Make a Wish won Emmy and Peabody Awards.
Verities and Balderdash is released. KHJ, LA's biggest Top 40 Station,
plays the song What Made America Famous? once an hour during July 4th
Verities and Balderdash charts at #1, awarded Gold Album Award.
Cat's in the Cradle #1 Single, awarded Gold record.
Receives a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Male Vocalist.
Poetry Book, Looking ... Seeing, is published and sold at concerts.
Broadway musical The Night that Made America Famous, starring and
written by Harry, opens. The show only lasts a few weeks, but reveives
two Tony nominations.
Harry begins teaching songwriter's workshop in Huntington.
Portrait Gallery released; single from the album, Dreams Go By,
Chapin founds World Hunger Year.
Greatest Stories Live released and eventually becomes Harry's 2nd Gold
Single: A Better Place to Be released.
On The Road to Kingdom Come released.
Performs and writes songs for ABC Bicentennial Special The Conscience of
Danceband on the Titanic released; named "Album of the Year"
by the Sunday Times critic, Derek Jewell. Chapin cabaret show opened in
First issue of Food Monitor published.
Receives Rockies Public Service Award
James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver appear with Harry in
Detroit concert benefitting hunger lobbying groups.
Receives Public Relations Society of America Lone Eagle Award.
Receives Brooklyn Technical High School Distinguished Alumni Award.
Living Room Suite released. Song Flowers are Red generates overwhelming
mail response when sung on the Tonight Show Appointed by President
Carter to Presidential Commission on World Hunger.
Rolling Stone publishes "Singing for the World's Supper" by
Dave Marsh, detailing Harry's work with WHY and Presidential Commission.
Receives an Honorary Doctor of Letters: Adelphia University.
New York City Hunger Hotline established.
Legends of the Lost and Found (New Greatest Stories Live) released.
Mother and Daughter: The Loving War ABC-TV film inspired by Tangled Up
Puppet featured Chapin songs, narration and cameo appearance.
Long Island Cares is founded.
Signed by Neil Bogart to Boardwalk Records; recorded Sequel - fastest
breaking single and album of Harry's career.
Good Faith Food Donor Bill passed in NY State.
Performs 2,000th Concert at The Bottle Line, NYC - concert broadcast
over WNEW-FM. CW Receives Post L.I. University - Honorary Doctor of
July 16th- Died on Long Island.
Cotton Patch Gospel opens in Boston.
Harry and band recorded 16 songs for projected LP The Last Protest
The Last Stand Harry's last completed song, sung publicly for the first
time by John Wallace at Grace Church. Completed version of Jubilation
also performed here for the first time, by The Cotton Pickers.
Cotton Patch Gospel opens in Atlanta; becomes longest- running play in
the city's history.
Kenny and Marianne Rogers establish World Hunger Media Awards.
Cotton Patch Gospel cast album is released.
CBS-Fox Video releases Harry Chapin: The Final Concert videocassette.
First Harry Chapin 5K Run.
USA for Africa produced by Ken Kragen and a result of Harry's
inspiration, records We Are The World to benefit victims of famine in
Lies and Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin opens at the
Apollo Theatre in Chicago.
Lies and Legends opens at the Village Gate NYC.
Lies and Legends cast album released.
Anthology retrospective album released by Elektra Records.
Awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor #111.
Remember When the Music re-recorded by brother Tom.
Harry Chapin Park Dedication Brooklyn, NY.
Harry Chapin: A Legacy in Song, a collection of 23 of Harry Chapin's
most beloved songs, released by Cherry Lane Music Co., Inc. 110 Midland
Avenue, Port Chester, NY 10573.
Elektra release of Heads and Tales and Greatest Stories Live on CD;
New anthology released on CD: Harry Chapin Gold Medal Collection.
Sequel re-released on CD (with 2 previously unreleased songs), under the
title Remember When The Music
Harry Chapin Tribute at Carnegie Hall - December 7 (Harry's Birthday).
Cotton Patch Gospel released on 16mm film and videocassette; nominated
for Dove Award (Gospel Music's Grammy) for long-video cassette.
"Cotton Patch" opens in Philadelphia.
Last Protest Singer release on Dunhill Classics CD.
Harry Chapin Tribute CD (featuring perfomances from the Carnegie Hall
Concert in 1987) released on Relativity Records.
New Live CD - The Bottom Line Encore Collection, featuring a recording
of Chapin's 2000th Concert, recorded at the Bottomline, New York City,
in January 1981 is released.
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