BMG has acquired the songbook of beloved, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson for an undisclosed amount, the company announced Monday (Nov. 14).
The deal includes Nilsson’s publishing catalog and revenue streams from songs such as “One”, “Coconut”, “Jump Into the Fire”, “Gotta Get Up” and “Me and My Arrow” as well as songs co-written with John Lennon (“Mucho Mungo/Mt. Elga” and “Old Dirt Road”), Danny Kortchmar (“(Thursday) Here’s Why I Did Not Go to Work Today” and “Moonshine Bandit”), Dr. John (“Daylight Has Caught Me”) and Ringo Starr (“How Long Can Disco On”). The deal also includes artist earnings from Nilsson’s recordings, including hits he didn’t write like “Everybody’s Talkin'” and “Without You.”
Nilsson released 18 studio albums over the course of his career, including his 1966 debut Nilsson in the spotlight, Harry, Nilsson sings Newman, Nilsson Schilson, A little touch of Schmilsson at nightthose produced by Lennon pussy cats, Knillsson and paint monkey. The list also includes soundtracks for Skidoo, son of Dracula and pop eyeas well as the posthumous album Lost and found. Nilsson died of a heart attack in 1994 at the age of 52 while recording the latter album, which was completed and released 25 years later in 2019.
As part of the acquisition, BMG will work with Nilsson’s family to explore opportunities around its other creative assets. These include Nilsson’s story for The point! — the 1971 ABC TV special for which he also wrote the soundtrack — as well as his name, likeness, and likeness, including for film, television, stage, and books.
Nilsson began his music career in 1960s Los Angeles as a songwriter for groups such as The Monkees and Three Dog Night. In 1969, he broke through with his cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning him a Grammy for Best Contemporary Male Vocal Performance. With his seventh album “1971” he consolidated his status as a left-wing hitmaker Nilsson Schmilsson. This set was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1973 Grammys and eventually earned RIAA-certified gold for the strength of hit singles, including the #1 smash “Without You” (a cover of the song by Badfinger), “Jump Into the Fire” and “Coconut”. This was followed by the sale of gold son of Schmilsson the following year. The album’s biggest hit, “Spaceman”, peaked at number 23 on the Hot 100.
Over the decades, Nilsson’s music has gained popularity thanks to placements in films and television shows such as B. Found new generations of fans Goodfellas (“Jump into the Fire”), Reservoir Dogs (“Coconut”), Russian doll (“Have to get up”), Forrest Gump (“Everybody’s Talkin'”) and You have mail (“The Puppy Song”).
The Nilsson family team was led by John Rudolph of 1.618 Industries, Inc. (formerly Music Analytics) with advice from Jason Karlov and Amanda Taber from Barnes & Thornburg.
“We are delighted to have found a partner who shares our love and reverence for Harry’s legacy,” the Nilsson family said in a statement. “We look forward to a long relationship with BMG and to celebrating this true genius of pop music together.”
Thomas Scherer, BMG President of Repertoire & Marketing, Los Angeles and New York, added: “For generations, Harry Nilsson’s timeless music has fascinated millions of people around the world. As a brilliant songwriter with an extraordinarily beautiful and unique voice, we will ensure his spirit thrives for generations to come. We are honored that the Nilsson family has chosen BMG to steward its musical legacy and proud to represent the cherished works of Harry Nilsson.”
Other recent acquisitions by BMG include the publishing and/or recorded catalogs of John Legend, Mötley Crüe, John Lee Hooker and ZZ Top.