My uncle and I usually went annually to see Harry Chapin in concert. We would take our dates, and have a great time hearing Harry tell his stories. He customarily came to a local venue (The Warwick Tent) in Rhode Island every August.
The two of us were talking about seeing him again that year, and I mentioned that as soon as the tickets were on sale, I would drive down to the box-office and pick up four of them. This was some time in early July of 1981. Then on the afternoon of the 16th, I had the radio on. At the end of a song, right before a commercial break, the DJ said something like, “When we return, we’ll have an update on the car accident involving Harry Chapin”. I froze, not knowing the worst had happened.
When they returned after break, it was announced that Harry had died in the accident. It was devastating and heartbreaking at the same time. I called my uncle, in tears, to let him know what had happened. He hadn’t heard, and was shocked. There we were, a few days earlier, talking about going to see him once again in concert. Talk about a roller-coaster ride of emotions. It was an event that took the two of us a long time in which to recover.
Looking back, I don’t think Harry ever really reached his potential, either as an entertainer or in his personal life. His work, both publicly and privately, benefited so many people over the years. I’m sure up until the time of his death, he felt there was so much more that he needed to accomplish.