How well known is Laura Nyro in USA/Canada?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Siegmund, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident Thread Starter

    England, UK
    She's not at all well-known in Britain. Even people who call themselves fairly serious music fans haven't heard of her.

    The Fifth Dimension, who popularised several of her songs, had no profile whatsoever in Britain, but were successful for many years in America. But people who buy records don't always look at the name of the songwriter (as Jimmy Webb will tell you).

    So: is Laura Nyro a household name across the Atlantic? Or is she just another cult artist?
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  2. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    A big name in the late 60's/early 70's. Faded some after that, but still known.
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  3. Greg Carrier

    Greg Carrier Forum Resident

    Iowa City
    I think she's certainly a cult artist. Her songs are well-known, since they were sizable hits here for the Fifth Dimension, BS&T, Three Dog Night, and Barbara Streisand, but I don't think casual music fans have ever known who she is. Her own recordings have never sold particularly well.
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  4. micksmuse

    micksmuse Forum Resident

    san diego
    she is a deity and saint in my location, she is the name of my daughter and the place all my musical explorations start. 'nough about me.

    i think she is well known with a cult following over here. most of the shows i have seen her at over the years have sold out with rabid fan's.
    if you were one who read the liner notes on albums you know of her from that era.
    her website and other blogs have some of the most heartfelt tributes and writings of any artist i have seen.
    but sadly well over half the people i try to turn on to her come back and say they can't get by her voice or something like (i like her covers of the 5th dimension, bs&t and three dog night) to my chagrin.
    of course that is un-fathomable to me but if so many say that it has to be an issue with some.
    so cult artist with a writing reputation mostly.
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  5. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Forum Resident

    She was well respected, but never was a "known" artist here in the USA. She never had a top 30 album here, but cultivated a small but intense group of die-hard fans.

    Today, she is for the most part unknown, unless someone is really into songwriters.
  6. bluesbro

    bluesbro Forum Hall of Shame

    I found Laura Nyro late in my record collecting career. I don't recall ever hearing Laura Nyro voice on the radio. Never saw her on the cover of a music magazine.

    She is one of my favorite artists now. I wish I could turn the whole world into Laura Nyro fans.
  7. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    It is true she never had a hit single as a solo artist, so I have almost never heard her on the radio. However, CBS have kept Eli... and her next few albums in print consistently since release.
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  8. lennonfan1

    lennonfan1 Forum Resident

    baltimore maryland
    I remember quite a bit of press about her in the late '60s and since, for those who love to explore singer/songwriter she's a real touch stone.
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  9. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    Without exception, everyone that I asked or played some of her music to, never heard of her....over a period of 20+ years.

    So she is about the opposite of being a household name.
  10. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    These terms "well known" etc are all so relative. I will say that many musicians admired her.

    She decided to avoid publicity after the early 1970's, giving her a freedom that her earlier stardom would not permit.

    Whether people today know her of course depends somewhat on your age (or how curious you are about artists of yesteryear)
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
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  11. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident Thread Starter

    England, UK
    I don't understand people not liking her voice: it's a great voice, however you consider it.
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  12. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident Thread Starter

    England, UK
    Ought to add: I first heard of Laura Nyro by reading the advertisements on the inners sleeves of my mother's Simon & Garfunkel records. I was intrigued, so I checked her out.
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  13. Sax-son

    Sax-son Forum Resident

    She was really an up and coming artist in 1969/1970 era. She had a couple really good albums and kind of disappeared after that. I don't know why, perhaps she didn't like the rock and roll lifestyle and decided to keep a low profile. It's not for everybody.
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  14. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    That is because quite often it kills you
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  15. Exit Flagger

    Exit Flagger Forum Resident

    New York
    Nyro has had a bit of a resurgence of interest in the past decade in the indie and singer/songwriter worlds. This kicked off partially with Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley who credited her (and Gonna Take a Miracle specifically) with the inspiration for her 2006 solo album Rabbit Fur Coat. After that Nyro began to get more press than she had in 20 years. A lot of other artists seemed to rediscover her around that time.

    This resurgence was so strong that she ended up with a surprising two albums on Uncut Magazine's 2016 list of the Top 200 Albums of All Time (Eli and the Thirteenth Confession at #100 and New York Tendaberry at #170).

    Eli is also listed in that 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die book which was first published in 2005.
  16. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident Thread Starter

    England, UK
    She 'retired' from the music business in 1972 to get married and have a child. After divorcing, she returned with 'Smile' in 1976.
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  17. Danby Delight

    Danby Delight Forum Resident

    She's not a cult figure in the sense that, say, Judee Sill is, in that she wasn't "rediscovered" after a period of total oblivion. I'd say she's closer to like Leonard Cohen: people who like that sort of thing at least know her name, but she's not a household name, although she's in the Hall of Fame.

    My understanding is that it was mostly a combination of stage fright and a certain level of internal conflict (she was both very very Catholic and quietly bisexual, a difficult combination to pull off in the early '70s) that caused her to step away from writing and performing.
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  18. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    it is not so hard to understand wanting to live out of the limelight. most of us do that, and prefer it that way. raising a child makes it real.
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  19. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Forum Resident

    As history marches on, so many great and admired songwriters just get lost---they just become a name on record labels, which most people don't even buy anymore. At this point in time, I would say that 95% of the public has no idea who Laura Nyro, Harry Nilsson, Doc Pomus, or Brian Wilson are (although some of their songs may be known).

    Just for comparison: I met a bunch of my college-age daughter's friends last week. I told them that I just saw Nick Lowe. They had no idea who he was/is.
  20. jkm

    jkm The Medium is the Massage

    Vancouver, CANADA
    Heard her music frequently on FM radio back in the day.
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  21. Tribute

    Tribute Forum Resident

    Maybe I should answer the question this way. The 2 CD edition of Laura Nyro's Mono Recordings, issued for the first time on CD, and with bonus material) completely sold out within two weeks of its release (last month) and is now going for high prices in the aftermarket.

    She is well known. That rarely happens.
  22. Outside of this forum I have not met one person familiar with Nyro's work. Not one. Going on 30+ years now...
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  23. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident Thread Starter

    England, UK
    Nor me. I didn't even know how to pronounce her name (apparently, it's 'Nero' as in the Roman emperor) until a couple of years ago, despite having been a fan since 1986.
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  24. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident Thread Starter

    England, UK
    Even before his all-conquering comeback in the 2000s, Leonard Cohen was internationally well-known, if not famous.

    I think the 'stage fright' story stems from her appearance at Monterey, which has gone down in history as a flop (although it wasn't - she was well enough received but she was sharing that stage with some big beasts). I've read reports of other concerts where she seemed very relaxed and comfortable with the audience. Not a natural live performer, maybe, but not a total wallflower, either.

    The bisexuality/lesbianism probably had more of an impact, although I don't think she exactly hid her love away (the song 'Emmie' on 'Eli...' has been referenced as the first openly lesbian love song).
  25. mrwolk

    mrwolk Well-Known Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    In the 70's i worked in a record store in Montreal and the owner was a big Laura Nyro we were always playing her albums in the store and kept a good stock of her records predominantly displayed...and when she came to town..our boss bought 14 tickets and took us to the concert. Thanks Eric!
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