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(Credit: Takahiro Kyono)


Listen to Stevie Nicks and Ringo Starr's collaborative tribute to Harry Nilsson


Back in 1995, a compilation album was released to pay tribute to a music icon who perhaps deserves a little more attention, especially with the kinds of music he’s written and produced over the years. This album was titled For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson. 

Harry Nilsson was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the majority of his success in the 1970s. He wrote songs for various artists and performed his own music. Upon forming friendships with John Lennon and Ringo Starr, he was often referred to as “The American Beetle”. This is all the stuff of someone who has made a great impact on the music world.

When the 1995 album dropped, it had been one year since his passing, and there were plenty of star-studded individuals on board. Amiee Mann, Randy Newman, and plenty more—this included Stevie Nicks and Ringo Starr, who teamed up to sing one of his songs as a duet to go on the album.

‘Lay Down Your Arms’ is the arrangement they chose, and it works exceptionally well as a duet. Their voices might not seem like the first picks to blend together so seamlessly, but they actually make for a great pairing, especially over a classic track like this one. Of course, Ringo Starr was a close friend of Nilsson’s, so it would make sense to see a cover of his on the album, but the addition of Stevie Nicks was a unique and interesting touch that made it all the more intriguing.

Nilsson’s close relationship with The Beatles is widely known among those who championed both musicians. In fact, on one occasion, the Fab Four went as far as to name the New York native as their “favourite band” in an interview that looked to dig deeper into the creative leanings and inspirations of Liverpool’s favourite sons.

After his passing, Nilsson’s son, Zak said this of his correspondence with Paul McCartney: “I got this letter from Paul McCartney the other day. He heard I had cancer and sent me this note. I was very touched that Harry’s friendship meant this much to Paul”. He reprinted McCartney’s note, which wished Nilsson’s son the “very best of luck with your (chemo) treatment. My wife, Nancy, went through it years ago and stuck with it even though she hated it. She is now better and well, except for the fact she is married to me!! I was very privileged to know your Dad, whom I knew as a lovely guy and a great talent.”

Harry Nilsson’s link to The Beatles runs deep, and with Ringo Starr taking the stage as the only Beatle to feature on the compilation album, he clearly did so with great care and respect. If you want to listen to his team up with Stevie Nicks for their duet of ‘Lay Down Your Arms’, you can find it down below.