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Harry Chapin

Chapin was born into a middle-class family in New York City, the second of four children who also included future musicians Tom and Steve. His parents were Jeanne Elspeth (née Burke) and Jim Chapin, a legendary percussionist. He had English ancestry, his great-grandparents having immigrated in the late 19th century. His parents divorced in 1950, with Elspeth retaining custody of their four sons, as Jim spent much of his time on the road as a drummer for Big band era acts such as Woody Herman. She married Films in Review magazine editor Henry Hart a few years later. Chapin's maternal grandfather was literary critic Kenneth Burke.

Chapin's first formal introduction to music was while singing in the Brooklyn Boys Choir, where Chapin met "Big" John Wallace, a tenor with a five-octave range, who later became his bassist, backing vocalist, and his straight man onstage. Chapin began performing with his brothers while a teenager, with their father occasionally joining them on drums. Harry's first instrument was not the guitar, but the trumpet. He took lessons at the famed Greenwich House Music School on Barrow Street in Greenwich Village. Years later, he recalled telling Carl Osheroff, his fellow student there, that he would never become famous playing the trumpet. He remembered that Carl told him to take a look around the Village where they both lived at the time. "He said that the guitar was the way to go. The Village was bursting with folk singers at the time.

Chapin graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1960 and was among the five inductees in the school's Alumni Hall Of Fame for the year 2000. He briefly attended the United States Air Force Academy and was then an intermittent student at Cornell University but did not complete a degree.

He originally intended to be a documentary film-maker and directed Legendary Champions in 1968, which was nominated for a documentary Academy Award. In 1971, he decided to focus on music. With John Wallace, Tim Scott and Ron Palmer, Chapin started playing in various local nightclubs in New York City.


Harry Forster Chapin (December 7, 1942 – July 16, 1981) was an American singer and songwriter.
In 1987, Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work.
"Cat's in the Cradle" ranked number 186 of 365 on the RIAA list of Songs of the Century.

 

70's Rock

Cats In The Cradle

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