Remembering Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin was an incredible musician, a gifted storyteller and a committed activist for social justice who co-founded WhyHunger in 1975. Just a few years later, on July 16, 1981, Harry’s life was tragically cut short.

WhyHunger honors Harry every day by carrying forward his work to end hunger and build a just world. We invite you to use the simple form below to share your memories of Harry. We also invite you to help WhyHunger bring about Harry’s vision of a hunger-free world by joining Harry’s Giving Circle, a special group of monthly donors who know that together we can have a bigger impact!

Join the Giving Circle

  • Harry Chapin performs during Hungerthon in the 1970s.

    Photo credit: Diane Maple
  • Bill Ayres and Harry Chapin at WNEW FM for WhyHunger's annual Hungerthon broadcast.

    Photo credit: Diane Maple
  • Harry Chapin inspiring listeners and asking for donations during yet another Hungerthon.

    Photo credit: Diane Maple
Tim Doke: Two Great Memories

My friends and I were lucky to hear Harry and the band at one of their earliest concerts in a small venue in Kansas City where we all were sitting around on the floor. Taxi had been released, but Short Stories had not -- so we got treated to all the material on both albums. We were amazed that the "new" material was just as fantastic as the songs on Taxi.

Years later, Harry and the band came to our campus for a large venue performance, and we were on the second row. By now, there were three or four albums out, and he played for more than three hours. Afterwards, we went back to meet him, buy the poetry book and get it autographed. We mentioned that we were all headed to a party and handed him directions. Lo and behold, he showed up about two hours later and we hung out and partied with him -- Harry loved to party! -- and discovered what a wonderful person there was inside our favorite singer. 

He still lives in our hearts.

Wednesday, 07 December 2016
Helena Sherman: A fan since 9 years old

My parents were huge fans of Harry's music. My mother heard Cats in the Cradle on the radio and brought home that first album. They were lucky enough to see him acoustically at St Joseph's U in the early 70's. I was young but because the music was played in the house all the time I knew every word to every song. So for my 11th birthday my parents took me to see Harry at the Valley Forge Music Fair in December of 77. It was a few days before Harry's birthday as well as mine. Even though it was a school night, I got to wait in line at the end of the show for Harry to sign a shirt. He asked me why I was up so late and I said I am here to see you because it's my birthday. He replied that it was his too and he kissed my cheek. I also asked quite shyly if Corey was real. He said well, what do you think? I said she has to be real! Harry then replied if you believe it, she is real.  I don't think I'll ever forget his kindness to an 11 yr old kid.

His music has stayed with me my whole life. As an adult his songs are much more meaningful. His humanitarianism, his humor, and his urge to make things better for everyone lives in my heart.

Monday, 29 August 2016
Betty Camp: Memorable concert

Harry was scheduled to perform with his group in West Palm Beach FL. He (alone) made a stop in our little town of Fort Pierce and performed in the middle of our Community Center, on a bar stool...acoustic no less! THE best concert I've ever attended. I frequently play his CD's / songs, especially 30,000 Lbs of Bananas! Taken too soon; God bless your continued work.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Dan Plunkett: concerts

My wife and I saw Harry at Queen's University in Kingston.  In the last concert we attended Harry announced that this was the one going to the charity.  I was teaching religion and English in a Catholic school and I told my students, they should see Harry so they could see a truly great story teller and I said they should always take any opportunity to see someone who is fully alive and knows what to do with it.

This summer I produced a show in St. Catharines at my church.  We raised $600 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.  I did "All My Life's a Circle" in memory of Harry.

I have enjoyed hearing and meeting Harry's daughter Jen.

Thank you for showing us what good we can do.

Let us all choose to love each other.



Monday, 01 August 2016
Scott B

I remember exactly where I was when the music stopped playing.  I was at my summer camp, waiting tables that year.  Someone walked by and said, "Hey, did you hear your buddy died."  I didn't know what he meant, but went on to learn the news.   For so many years before Harry's death, I was a huge fan.  I was a kid, but his music resonated with me.  I learned to play the guitar, and had all the Chapin songbooks so I could play all of Harry's music.  I saw him countless times, performing at charity events, and even a few I had to pay for.   I saw him play with Pete Seeger, Steve Goodman on Long Island, his brothers, and so many others.   I saw him while in college too.  

And I have so many autographed posters that adorn my wall.

Harry's music is a constant source of inspiration.    I smile when I hear his music, but I'm also sad - I often wonder how much more music we could have had, how many anthems we could have heard. 

At a camp talent show, I played Taxi.  My voice wasn't so good, but I wanted to introduce everyone to Harry's music.   During the part where John Wallace joins in the vocals, well I tried that one too. 

And now I play Harry's music for my kids.  Because for me, the music didn't really stop playing.

Thank you Chapin Family for your family concerts, and for continuing Harry's legacy.  I saw your show most recently at the Bergen PAC.  It was wonderful. 

As it turns out, I am also a huge Kenny Loggins fan, so was thrilled to see Kenny receive your award last month.

Scott B

Friday, 29 July 2016