Do Something
  Mailing List
  Message Board

  maintained by:

  leave your thoughts/
  tribute to Harry:
check out the guestbook


  Click here to read Circle!

Home > Miscellaneous > How Harry Died

If anyone has more accurate information than this, please correct me. I am just compiling "facts" from Harry's biography, newspaper and magazine articles and tv news reports and we all know that any of these sources might not be totally accurate.

There is speculation about the exact cause of Harry's death. He was driving on the Long Island Expressway on Thursday July 16, 1981 just after noon, in the left hand fast lane, at about 65 miles an hour, and then for an unknown reason, either because of engine failure or some physical problem (thought to be a possible heart attack) put on his emergency flashers near Exit 40 in Jericho, NY. He then slowed to about 15 miles an hour and veered into the center lane nearly colliding with another car at that point. He swerved back left, then back right again and this time went directly in front of a tractor-trailer truck owned by Supermarkets General. The truck could not brake in time and rammed the rear of Harry's blue 1975 VW Rabbit, rupturing the gas tank and causing it to burst into flames. This occurred at 12:29 p.m.

The driver of the truck, 57 year old Robert Eggleton of South Plainfield, NJ and another passerby were able to get Harry out of the burning car through the window and by cutting the seatbelts, before the car was completely engulfed. (the news reports showed the car and there was hardly anything left of it) He was taken by police helicopter to the hospital where ten doctors tried for 30 minutes to revive him. Ed Smith, a spokesman for the Nassau County Medical Center said that Harry had suffered a massive heart attack and "died of cardiac arrest" but there was no way of knowing whether it occurred before or after the accident. The news reports at first reported that he had died of a heart attack and then later said that death was caused by the impact which tore the artery away from the heart.

Supposedly the only initial means of identification on Harry was a gold pocket watch, but police were later able to make identification through a license plate check.

Sandy did win a $12 million decision in a negligence lawsuit against Supermarkets General even though Harry's driver's license was revoked at the time of the accident.


Layout, design, images, and user-contributed text are © Copyright 1996-2009 The Harry Chapin Archive.

"Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world?" -- Harry Chapin, 1942-1981.



Harry's Music
Bottom Line Encore Collection
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Dance Band On The Titanic*
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Gold Medal Collection
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Greatest Stories Live*
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Harry Chapin Tribute
Heads & Tales
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Last Protest Singer
Legends Of Lost & Found*
Living Room Suite
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
On The Road To Kingdom Come
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Portrait Gallery
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Short Stories
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Sniper & Other Love Songs
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Story of a Life
Verities & Balderdash
      [Amazon] [iTunes]

* = Highly Recommended

The Latest Release

Sniper & Other Love Songs


In 1972, Harry released Sniper & Other Love Songs. Thirty years would pass before the album would ever reach the CD format. Sniper was finally re-released in June, 2002.

Originally given a working title of Sweet City Suite, the album tells the story of various characters one might run into in a city. The album features the original studio versions of Chapin classics "A Better Place to Be" and "Circle." But perhaps more importantly (as those songs are already well-distributed on compilation CDs), the album features seemingly lost Chapin stories, including "And the Baby Never Cries," "Burning Herself," "Barefoot Boy," and "Woman Child."

Sniper is for the seasoned Chapin fan. New fans would do better to check out Greatest Stories Live. But for Chapin fans who have reached the level of the Dance Band on the Titanic album, this is the next step. Slightly over-produced and having a little of the "forced" feel that some of Harry's studio albums possess, this album does not capture the powerfully live Harry Chapin. Nonetheless, it captures Harry's great iconoclastic songwriting--Harry takes the story song to new heights here. But the album works best for those ready for it; don't buy it until you are ready to appreciate it!