Ulster’s ever-bohemian folk-pop balladeer Duke Special, he of the kohl-rimmed eyes, dreadlocks and love-lorn lyrics, returns to the Ulster gig circuit next month with a series of concerts in which he will perform the songs of American singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson - a favourite in his own music collection.
Nilsson was John Lennon’s favourite American artist. He achieved success on both sides of the Atlantic as a recording artist and songwriter for hire and was one of the few major pop-rock acts of his era to achieve commercial success without ever performing major public concerts. He was feted by and worked with The Beatles, Phil Spector, The Monkees, Randy Newman, Glen Campbell, songwriter Jimmy Webb and many other stars of his day.
Nilsson is best known for hit singles Everybody’s Talkin’ (1969), Without You (1971), and Coconut (1972); the first two tracks scooped him Grammy awards in 1969 and 1972 respectively.
Belfast artist Duke said: “Harry Nilsson is an artist whose music has always been on the periphery of my world. He is someone who I’d known as a songwriter and piano player and I knew some of his better known material, but I was excited by the thought of exploring his music properly.
“I love the learning curve of delving into another artist’s work and mining for hidden gems or forgotten treasures and finding myself absorbing and responding to all this music which is new to me or which echoes somewhere at the edges of my memory.
“As I immerse myself in his music and life, I’m sure I’ll discover many of the ups and downs which had an impact on his songwriting and talent. For the most part however, I want the concerts to be a showcase of Nilsson’s music and my hope is that the audience will hear many songs they are familiar with as well as being introduced to lesser known Nilsson.
“I’d love people to go away feeling satisfied, entertained and intrigued to go exploring Harry’s work for themselves.”
The Duke will perform these concerts with a band featuring Paul Pilot (guitarist and producer on many Duke records) and guest singers.
Duke Special will perfrom at the Millennium Forum, Londonderry, October 12 and The Empire Music Hall, Belfast, October 13. Contact venues for tickets.