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  • Writer's pictureRock Tour London

Sometimes Tragedy Strikes. Twice.


In 1972 American singer/songwriter, Harry Nilsson bought a place in London. He chose the swanky address, just steps off Park Lane in The Capital's Mayfair neighborhood, because of its close proximity to Apple Records, the Playboy Club and the star-studded private club, Tramp.





Originally, the location was known as #9 Curzon Place but redevelopment of the area re-numbered the building and it is now recognized as #1 Curzon Square. Harry's flat, #12, was the two side by side windows there near the top of the building.


If the name, Harry Nilsson, doesn't ring a bell perhaps a couple of his more popular songs (I can't live if living is) Without You and (you put the lime in the) Coconut will jog your memory.








Harry was sometimes referred to as the American Beatle as he was very close friends with John Lennon and Ringo Starr. So close that the three musicians all coveted their membership in the Hollywood Vampires drinking club. A membership that resulted in a number of widely publicized incidents...all of which were alcohol induced. In fact, it was Nilsson that John Lennon spent a lot of time with during his "Lost Weekend". {Lennon's "Lost Weekend," as he referred to it, was the 18 months between the summer of 1973 and early 1975 when he and Yoko were "on a break" (shameless FRIENDS reference) and he had an affair with the couple's assistant, May Pang.} In March of 1974, Lennon and Nilsson were 'removed' from a popular LA venue, the Troubadour Club, for heckling the Smothers Brothers.



Since Nilsson spent extended periods of time in America, he would often lend his London flat out to his musician friends to use when they were visiting or working in town. The third floor flat was where he invited his dear friend, Cass Elliot, to stay while she performed two weeks of shows at the London Palladium. The shows were Elliot's farewell to her Mama Cass persona and were such a huge success that after her last performance, and after attending Mick Jagger's birthday party, Cass phoned friend Michelle Phillips from the apartment expressing her happiness at how well the shows had been received and that she felt she could finally move on as herself.






That night, 29 July 1974, Cass Elliot died in her sleep here. While rumors of her choking on a ham sandwich ran rampant at the time (and there was an untouched ham sandwich on a bedside table), Cass died of a heart attack believed to have been brought on by years of yo-yo dieting. Cass was 32 years old.







Fast forward a couple of years when on 6 Sept 1978, The Who's drummer, Keith Moon, returned to Harry's borrowed flat after attending a preview of the new film, The Buddy Holly Story, and an after party in the company of Paul & Linda McCartney. The McCartney's were somewhat surprised that Moon was as subdued as he was that evening. Seeing as this was Keith Moon, a.k.a. Moon the Loon, his behavior (or lack thereof) seemed a bit out of character that night.



Moon was taking prescription medication used to curb the symptoms of alcohol withdrawals. It has been reported that Keith consumed repeated doses of those meds that night resulting in an overdose that killed him. Keith Moon died on 7 Sept 1978 in Harry Nilsson's flat in the same bed Cass had died in four short years earlier. He, too, was 32 years old.



Harry Nilsson was so distraught over the death of yet another friend in his house that he sold the place to Moon's bandmate, Pete Townsend, consolidated his life and stayed in Los Angeles where he died of heart failure at the age of 52 in January of 1994.


Check out our video tour of Mayfair Places that includes a visit to #1 Curzon Square


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