Harry Forster Chapin (December 7, 1942 – July 16, 1981) was a American folk singer, playwright, known for his story songs. Later in his life he focused his energy on the philanthropic efforts with a special focus on world hunger with creation of World Hunger Year. He also performed benefit concerts for hundreds of other organizations during his career. Toward the end of his career, half his concerts were benefits.
Harry was the second oldest of four brothers: Jim, Tom, and Steve of jazz drummer James Forbes Chapin and Elspeth (Burke) Chapin. . Harry also had other stepbrothers and stepsisters. Harry married Sandy Gaston on November 28, 1968. Harry and Sandy had two children: Josh and Jen. Harry's stepchildren from Sandy's first marriage were Jaime, Jonothon, and Jason.
Harry passed away on July 16, 1981 at the age of 38. He died in an automobile accident with a semi-truck on the Long Island Expressway (LIE) in Long Island, New York. The official cause of death was listed as heart attack. He is buried in the Huntington Rural Cemetery in Huntington, Long Island, New York. Harry was on the way to a business meeting when he was killed. Later that day he was scheduled for a benefit concert on at Eisenhower Park on Long Island, New York.
Extended Chapin Family
Many members of the extended Chapin Family lead or have lead public lives in the arts.
- Harry Chapin - The primary focus of this web site
- Kenneth Burke - Harry's grandfather
- Michael Burke - Harry's uncle
- Abigail Chapin - Tom's Chapin's daughter
- James B. Chapin - Harry's oldest brother
- James Ormsbee Chapin - Harry's grandfather
- Jen Chapin - Harry's daughter
- Jim Chapin - Harry's father
- Josh Chapin - Harry's son
- Lily Chapin - Tom Chapin's daughter
- Sandy Chapin - Harry Chapin's wife
- Steve Chapin - Harry's brother
- Tom Chapin - Harry's brother
- Jessica Craven - Tom's Chapin's step daughter
- Jeb Hart - Harry's half brother
- Ron Palmer (1971-1974) - guitar, background vocals
- Tim Scott (1971-1972) - cello
- John Wallace (1971-1981) - bass, background vocals
- Michael Masters (1973-1976) - cello
- Howard Fields (1975-1981) - drums
- Doug Walker (1975-1981) - electric guitar, background vocals
- Steve Chapin (1975-1981) - piano
- Ron Evanuik (1976) - cello
- Kim Scholes (1977-1980) - cello
- Yvonne Cable (1980-1981) - cello
- Tom Chapin (occasional performances) - guitar, background vocals
Main Article: Harry Chapin discography
Harry Chapin was best known for his Cat's in Cradle, and his story songs, His career also included directing/writing documentaries and industrial films, scoring soundtracks to movies and TV shows, composing, producing, and performing in his own musicals.
During his rather brief career he released 11 musical albums. Numerous anthologies and other previously unreleased material was made available posthumously.
Various artists perform Harry Chapin tribute concerts that feature the songs of Harry Chapin. In the spirit of Chapin's activism, these concerts are often benefits for a hunger-related charity. These artists include:
- The Chapin Family
- John McMenamin
- Scott Sivakoff
- Jason Colannino
- Bill Pere and the LUNCH Ensemble
Numerous songs have been written about Harry Chapin. They include:
- "The Man Who Sings Stories (Storyman)" - (1980) Harry Nydick - This song was written in October 1980 after personal encouragement from Chapin. Harry Nydick and his brother performed the song for Harry following his November 2, 1980 concert at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- "Number One" (1992) - Tom Chapin on Life is Like That
- "Keep the Change" (1992) - Kevin Mulvenna on Red, White, and Blues
- "Storyman 2006" (2006) - Harry Nydick, is a revised version of The Man Who Sings Stories (Storyman) in collaboration with Scott Sivakoff.
- "The Storyteller - by Ian Francis
Harry either founded these organizations or there is direct link to the charity and Harry.
- World Hunger Year - founded by Harry and Bill Ayres in 1975
- Harry Chapin Foundation - founded after his death in his memory.
- Long Island Cares - Long Island-based food pantry and hunger advocacy group.
Other notable Harry Chapin websites
- Harry Chapin Music - The official family site
- Chapin Music - Tribute site run by Scott Sivikoff and Steve Gibbons
- Harry Chapin at Yahoo Groups - Very active forum of Harry Chapin fans
- Harry's Friends - Bob Marr's tribute website
- The Harry Chapin Archive- Brian Bieluch's tribute website
- Short Stories - A Harry Chapin - by Andy Langran
- Harry Chapin Obsessed at myspace.com