Harry Edward Nilsson III [1] was born on June 15, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, to Bette and Harry Nilsson.


Nilsson's entry in the New York Birth Index


In a 1968 interview, Harry stated that his full name is "Harry Edward Christopher Nilsson." Noting that he was born on Father's Day, Nilsson said, "They say you are lucky if you're born on a special day and if your initials spell a word." So, he continued, he doesn't include "Christopher" in his name "because it's my confirmation name" and because it prevents his initials from spelling the word "hen."[2]


According to the Behind the Name web site the name "Harry" ultimately derives from the Germanic name Heimirich meaning "home ruler." The popularity of the name "Harry" for new-born babies peaked at about 2% in 1889, a few years after the birth of Harry S. Truman. It's popularity in the states has declined since then with only about two out of 10,000 babies born in the US given the first name Harry in 2021. Harry, however, is often used as a diminutive for the more popular name Henry.


In England and Wales, the name Harry is much more common. Its popularity peaked in 2011 (around the time that the last of the Harry Potter movies was released). It was the most popular male baby name that year and the next. It still remains in the top ten favorite male baby names in England.


In Sweden, Harry (and its alternative spelling "Harri") was the 83rd most popular male baby name in 2009, but its popularity has risen dramatically to become one of the top twenty most common male baby names in Sweden today.


The surname "Nilsson" literally means "Son of Nils." The given name Nils is a derivation of Nicholas which is Greek for "Victory of the People."


In the US, the surname Nilsson is not very common, but in Sweden it is the fourth most common last name.


He was the brightest wittiest person I'd ever met in my life. You could see how his mind worked Sometimes you'd see the creative process in action He wrote screenplays, fiction, and he was the most curious person I've ever met He was always interested in learning. He was a genius in many ways.

-- Lee Blackman (2013) [3]


He had a Dickensian depth. When you think of the kid that had to steal fruit from somebody's yard to feed his mother and sister, and then go to the $5 million deal or whatever it was is incalculable.
What is the flash sailors see before the sun[set]? It was a bright moment. His life was bright and beautiful. He had made it beautiful that way.

-- Van Dyke Parks (2013) [4]


Dawn Eden's "One Last Touch of Nilsson" (which you can read online here) is based on extensive interviews with Harry conducted during the last days of his life. The article provides a good overview of Harry's life and music.