The Harry Nilsson Web Pages

Harry Nilsson News (2023-09-05)

The Dream Weaver Has Died

Gary Wright died at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California, on September 4, 2023. Although best known for his solo hits "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive" - and having been born and raised in the US - Wright first caught the attention of music fans as a member of the British band Spooky Tooth in the late 1960s. Wright left the band in early 1970 to begin a career as a solo artist and session musician.


In 1971 Harry Nilsson recorded "Without You" which was destined to be his biggest hit. Rick Wakeman played the piano for an early take of the song, Nilsson and his producer, Richard Perry, decided that Wakeman's track was "too busy, too complex."


So we replaced Rick Wakeman with Gary Wright and he began, just like you hear on the record, very simple. It was just right![1]



Harry Nilsson News (2023-09-01)

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story Released on Home Video

A Blu-Ray of The Lost Weekend: A Love Story is being released in mid-October of 2023. It is currently available for pre-order from The film is also available for purchase online through Amazon Prime.


Harry Nilsson News (2023-07-10)

Bob Segarini Has Died

Songwriter and performer, Bob Segarini, died in his sleep on July 10, 2023. He was 77 years of age.


Patty Faralla, a press agent for RCA, introduced Segarini to Harry Nilsson in 1965.


Harry and Bob wrote a song together. Segarini's group, Family Tree, released their version of "Miss Butter's Lament" on their 1968 album Miss Butters album. Nilsson's recording of the song went unreleased until 1995 when it appeared on the Personal Best - The Harry Nilsson Anthology album.


At Patty’s apartment the first time we met, we passed an old acoustic guitar back and forth and played our songs for one another. [...] Harry is dutifully impressed when I play him a tune or two. I hand him the guitar, and he starts singing: “Well in 1941 a happy father had a son.... [...] "Holy crap," I thought, "this guy is amazing."


In 1967, Bob introduced Harry to Diane Clatworthy, the secretary of the Family Tree fan club. Diane and Harry married on December 31, 1969, in Las Vegas.


Segarini wrote a song, "He Spins Around" about his friend, Harry Nilsson. It was released as the B-side of single in 1968 then on the CD release of the Miss Butters in 2007.


Harry and Bob's relationship soured in the mid to late 1970s as Harry's lifestyle became intertwined with the Beatles, drugs, and alcohol.


The last time I saw Harry was in line at the Carnegie Deli in New York. He was in front of me in an overcoat and I recognized the back of his head somehow. He was on his way to London to hang out, record, and move into Ringo’s flat for a while. He looked world weary, but still had the old twinkle in his eye. We reminisced while his limo idled out front, caught up, and had a few laughs waiting for our medium old fashioned (pastrami) on a Kaiser with double mustard, pickle on the side. When I asked after Diane, he said that they had gotten divorced, the twinkle in his eyes dimming, with what I could only imagine was caused by leaving his wife and young son behind, of abandoning them, of becoming his father.



Harry Nilsson News (2023-03-30)

Walk of Fame Star for Bill Bixby Campaign Meets Major Goal

Brandon Cruz's effort to have a star for Bill Bixby added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame has reached a major goal. The Go Fund Me account to raise money for the star has reached its goal and now the process for having the star approved and installed has begun.


You can follow the effort at:

Harry Nilsson News (2023-03-13)

Drummer Jim Gordon Dies

Jim Gordon who contributed to several Harry Nilsson albums as a percussionist has died at the age of 77 on March 13, 2023.


More Harry Nilsson News ...

Featured Article of the Day

Why is a Mouse That Spins?

By Roger Smith

Originally published in Everybody's Talkin' Volume 1997.2


On the back of Harry Nilsson's Aerial Ballet album cover is the cryptic message "Why is a mouse that spins." I suppose I'm not the only Harry fan to have puzzled over the meaning of the phrase. When I asked in the Internet's Harry Nilsson Mailing List if anyone knew what it meant, I really didn't expect an answer. Nevertheless, David Stetson was able to point to a reference. The Guardian Weekly's web page on the Internet ( has a column called "Notes and Queries." In one edition of the column, a reader asks:


In a Christmas cracker my mother found the conundrum 'Why is a mouse when it spins?' The answer was given as 'Because the higher, the fewer.' Is there any meaning to this?


John Nixon, of Horley, Surrey, responded "this nonsense question was popular among the RAF apprentices at Halton, Bucks, in the early 1950s, when the full version was: 'Why is a mouse when it spins? Because the higher they fly the fewer, and the engine driver's name was Smith. Why was his name Smith? Because his father's name was Smith.' Apart from the logic of the last bit, the repartee had no meaning whatsoever and was probably the precursor of the Monty Python type of humor."


Geoff Black, of Cambridge, added "the correct wording should have been 'Why does a mouse when it spins?' with the then obvious answer 'Higher or lower'. At least that was the version which sixth formers at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool used in the early 1960s to test the gullibility of younger members of the school such as myself. It was rumored that it had been devised by John Lennon, a pupil at the school until 1959, but perhaps I am being gullible in believing this."


Maurice F. deCogan, of Dalkey, County Dublin, spins his own tale: "1919 - The Black and Tans were prodding the armchairs with bayonets to see if the stuffing was hand-grenades. We kids were lined against the wall. 'When is your husband expected?' the officer asked my mother. 'When is a mouse when she spins?' she replied, adding, to his elevated eyebrows, 'The higher the fewer'. He and we knew the conversation was closed. He gathered his men and left - without finding the wireless transmitter under the aspidistra."


Peter M. Horsey MA, of Stockbury, Sittingbourne, Kent, says that the riddle fist came to his attention when he was a student fresher in 1942: "At the same time another phrase was popular. In answer to any question to which one could give no answer, such as 'Have you seen so-and-so?' or 'Have you read such-and-such?' the reply would be 'No, but my sister rides a bicycle.' There was also a sort of son-of-mouse to which the answer was 'No, but you can clean a straw hat with a lemon.' Unfortunately I've forgotten the question. Although this appears to be so much student nonsense, it taught me the meaning of non sequitur. As Hugh Lloyd said to Tony Hancock in 'The Blood Donor,' 'For things unknown there is no knowing.'"


Finally Patrick Nethercot, of Durham, offers a reasonable explanation: "This peculiar saying relates to a certain type of governor on steam engines, whereby revolutions of the engine are reduced if a spinning weight (mouse) is lifted up a shaft by its centrifugal force, releasing steam pressure and ensuring fewer revs: the higher, the fewer. Such systems were common on static engines like those found originally in cotton mills in the heyday of the steam revolution."


Note: Additional responses have been added on the Guardian's web page since this article was published in 1997.


A more authoritative discussion of the history and meaning of the phrase is found on the website Word Histories which traces the idiom back to the late 1800s.



External Links

Welcome to the Harry Nilsson Web Pages

This site is dedicated to the music and memory of Harry Nilsson. From the late 1960s through the early '90s, Nilsson produced music that both challenged norms and celebrated the past - often within the same song.
On first listen, his early Pandemonium Shadow Show is just an appealing collection of bouncy pop songs, a product of the time when it was released. But, on closer listen songs like "1941" and "Without Her" feature poignant and wistful lyrics on top of their upbeat, pop melodies. To the listener in the late 1960s, the melodies and songs, such as “Freckles” sometimes invoked what would have seemed a nostalgic air, but they still sound fresh more than fifty years later.
Nilsson remained unconventional throughout his career. He never toured to support an album and he made few TV appearances. He released an album of songs which were all written by another songwriter. He recorded an album of standards in front of an orchestra. He followed up his best selling album and song with an album featuring a song pretty much guaranteed to surprise, if not offend, his new fans.
Harry ventured into movies and TV, creating a classic animated story (“The Point!”) and writing the music and songs for the once-panned, but now cult favorite, film Popeye starring Robin Williams.
In the last years of his life, after his friend John Lennon was shot and killed, Harry stepped back from music and, ironically perhaps, more into the public eye as the spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence advocating for sensible gun laws in America.
A heart attack took Harry’s life in early 1994. Yet, his memory lives on in the hearts and minds of his friends, family, and fans. And his music lives on with Sony releasing a comprehensive collection of his works on CD and his music being featured prominently in TV and movies.