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Artificial Heart Invention
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Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin was a multi-award-winning singer, songwriter, composer, lyricist, poet, filmmaker, and social activist. He was best-known for his #1 hit, Cat's in the Cradle (1974).

Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Harry Foster Chapin

Date, time and place of birth: December 7, 1942, at 11:22 a.m., Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, U.S.A.*

Date, time, place and cause of death: July 16, 1981, at 1:05 p.m., Nassau County Medical Center, Long Island, New York, U.S.A. (Auto accident)

NOTE: Chapin's autopsy revealed that he suffered a heart attack, but it is not known whether it occurred before, or as a result of the collision.

Spouse: Sandy Gaston (Sandra Campbell Gaston) (m. November 28, 1968 - July 16, 1981) (his death)

Son: Joshua Burke Chapin (b. 1972)
Daughter: Jennifer Elspeth Chapin (b. July 1971)
Stepchildren: Jaime, Jonothon (known as Jono) and Jason

Father: James Forbes Chapin (a jazz drummer)
Mother: Elspeth (Burke) Chapin

Burial site: Huntington Rural Cemetery, 555 New York Avenue, Huntington, Long Island, New York, U.S.A.

Birth information source
* Source: Birth certificate


Harry Chapin's first hit was Taxi (1972), followed by Sniper (1972) and W*O*L*D (a.k.a. W-O-L-D or WOLD) (1973). Other credits include, A Better Place to Be, The Parade's Still Passing By, Circle, Sequel, 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, Tangled-Up Puppet, I Wanna Learn a Love Song and Cat's in the Cradle. Harry wrote literally hundreds of songs, and even found time to write and perform in a Broadway musical called The Night That Made America Famous (1975). The show opened February 26th, 1975, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre and ran for 75 performances. It closed April 6th, and earned two Tony award nominations.

His first "professional" work came along in 1958, when he began singing with his brothers as the Chapin Brothers. Singing 3-part pubescent harmony, they became locally popular junior folksingers. As the '60s progressed, his career moved in another direction. He turned to filmmaking and wrote, directed and edited a multi-award-winning documentary about boxing.
Legendary Champions was a two-and-a-half-year project that yielded first prize for best feature documentary at both the New York and Atlanta, Georgia film festivals, and was also nominated for an Academy Award in 1969 for Best Feature Documentary. Another of his documentaries, Blue Water, White Death (1971), featured his music and proved the catalyst for his permanent return to his musical career.

Some years he gave over 200 concerts. About half of these were charitable events at which he performed free-of-charge. He was credited with personally raising millions of dollars over the years through these benefit concerts. While the general public knows him best as a folksinger, troubadour and songwriter, the fact of the matter is, he was a dedicated philanthropist who had an undying commitment to end world hunger. He gave an incredible amount of his personal time and money to charitable causes. In fact, he gave away a fortune to fight hunger and poverty. Chapin supported literally dozens of charitable organizations and co-founded World Hunger Year in 1975. He was one performer who put his money where his mouth was. Chapin once commented, "I'm not one of those people who sends $5 to CARE on the week before Christmas and thinks my check means that I don't have to care about starving kids for another 52 weeks."

His songs told interesting, poignant, sentimental, sometimes heart-wrenching stories of loneliness, alienation, unfulfilled dreams, or lost loves. His most famous narrative song (co-written by his wife Sandy) was the evocative
Cat's In The Cradle, off the Verities and Balderdash album. The memorable chart-topping tune told the story of a neglectful, career-oriented father who realizes too late, that he has no relationship with his son, who turns out to be equally neglectful of him in his old age. His moral storytelling won a devoted following, but critics often attacked his work as "maudlin," "banal," "overwrought," "moralistic," "overly-sentimental," "heavy-handed" and "preachy."

Other notable career highlights include, founding trustee of World Hunger Year (1975-81), and member of the President's Committee on International, Domestic, and World Hunger (1978-81). The founding of President Jimmy Carter's Presidential Commission was primarily the result of Harry Chapin's personal lobbying efforts.

His untimely death in an auto accident came as he was driving himself on the Long Island Expressway to yet another benefit concert. Harry was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for his humanitarian efforts to end world hunger.

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