On a Borrowed Flat

Harry traveled a lot in his business. Work took him to London and then back to the US quite often. It made sense, then, for him to by a little place “across the pond” for those times when he needed it.

This being the 1970s, and him being a man who enjoyed the cacophony of intoxicants available in that era, Harry found a place close to swinging London’s nightlife. And, having some money and being young-ish, he met several others in the same business as he. And Harry’s friends liked to crash at his well-positioned pad. Which was fine with Harry. He didn’t mind at all. In fact, when business called him back to the states, he would let friends stay extended periods in the one bedroom flat.

Ellen was one such friend of Harry‘s. She needed a place, short-term, because she was going through some changes in careers but had managed to land a gig in London theater district. You see, Ellen had enjoyed some success with a troupe when she was younger, but, now that she was 32, she wanted to strike out on her own.

That proved to be difficult for her. Ellen had a weight problem. No matter what she did, she never seemed to be able to be as thin as other girls in her branch of the entertainment business. She saw this new opportunity as a chance to start over. So, she was thrilled when her friend Harry let her stay at his flat while she tried to get her life together.

Sadly, after only her second performance, Ellen died in Harry‘s apartment. Years of being a large person, along with several crash diets, had damaged her heart. The autopsy revealed there were no drugs in her system; her heart simply gave out. Harry was deeply saddened by this. He always thought Ellen had talent.

Four years passed, and Harry still had the apartment. Another friend in the entertainment business, a guy named Keith, asked Harry if he could use the apartment for a few weeks. Harry wasn’t sure. He somehow felt that the apartment brought bad luck. He told this to Keith, but Keith shook it off and said something to the effect that there’s no way lightning would strike twice.

Like Ellen, Keith was working through some personal issues. However, Keith’s issues dealt with alcohol abuse. His doctor had given him medicine to help him combat the addiction. One morning, Keith, who was also aged 32, simply took too many of the pills prescribed by his doctor and died in his sleep in the same bed where Ellen had died four years earlier.

This was too much for Harry. He sold the flat. In fact, he sold it to a good friend of Keith’s – – a guy named Pete.

You probably know Pete. Pete Townsend? And Pete’s friend, Keith? You probably know him, also. Keith Moon.

Ellen you probably also know. She didn’t go by her birth name professionally, however. You probably know her as Cass Elliot – – Mama Cass.

And what about poor Harry?

As stated above, Harry was a partier. Even though he didn’t die in that bed in that apartment, he still died in his mid-50s because his body couldn’t take the overindulgence that he subjected it to over the years of being a rock ‘n’ roll musician.

At his memorial service, the proceedings were interrupted by a strong earthquake. Someone joked that Harry Nilsson must’ve made it to heaven and found out that there weren’t any bars.

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