5 Laura Nyro Songs That Were Hits for The 5th Dimension, Barbra Streisand, and Other Stars

Laura Nyro, the influential singer/songwriter who released a series of critically acclaimed albums during the late 1960s and early ’70s, died of ovarian cancer on April 8, 1997. She was 49.

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The Bronx-born Nyro wrote theatrical, piano-driven songs featured introspective and confessional lyrics. She incorporated such musical genres influences as jazz, soul, R&B, pop, rock, and doo-wop into her work. She’s been cited as an influence by a wide range of contemporary and younger artists.

[RELATED: Behind the Song: “And When I Die” by Laura Nyro]

Among them are Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Elton John, Todd Rundgren, Jackson Browne, Bette Midler, Steely Dan, Patti Smith, Rickie Lee Jones, Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, and, surprisingly, Alice Cooper.

Nyro probably is most famous for the many songs she wrote early in her career that became major hits for other artists. Here’s a look at five memorable songs that various artists took to the upper reaches of the Billboard singles chart.

“Stoned Soul Picnic” – The 5th Dimension (1968)

“Stoned Soul Picnic” first appeared on Nyro’s second album, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, released in March 1968. The 5th Dimension released their version of the tune in June of that year and it became the pop quintet’s biggest hit to date, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song also was the title track of the group’s third studio album, which was released in August 1968. “Stoned Soul Picnic” was the first of several Nyro compositions that became hits for The 5th Dimension.

The group’s version of “Stoned Soul Picnic” went on to be certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of 1 million copies in the U.S.

“And When I Die” – Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968)

“And When I Die” was first featured on Nyro’s 1967 debut album, More Than a New Discovery. The horn-driven jazz-rock outfit Blood, Sweat & Tears covered the song for their self-titled second album, which was released in December 1968.

“And When I Die” was one of three songs on the Blood, Sweat & Tears album that reached No. 2 on the Hot 100, along with “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and “Spinning Wheel.” The album itself spent seven non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 in 1969.

“Wedding Bell Blues” – The 5th Dimension (1969)

“Wedding Bell Blues” also was a song from More Than a New Discovery. The 5th Dimension recorded their version for their hit 1969 album The Age of Aquarius and it went on to become one of their signature tunes. The group’s rendition topped the Hot 100 for three weeks in November 1969.

Like “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues” eventually was certified platinum by the RIAA.

“Eli’s Comin’” – Three Dog Night (1969)

Nyro’s original rendition of “Eli’s Comin’” appeared on Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. Pop-rock trio Three Dog Night recorded a rocking version of the song for their second album, Suitable for Framing (1969). The single reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was one of three Top-20 hits to appear on Suitable for Framing, along with “Easy to Be Hard” and “Celebrate.”

“Stoney End” – Barbra Streisand (1970)

“Stoney End” was another song from More Than a New Discovery. Barbra Streisand recorded a version of the tune and released it as a single in October 1970. The track reached No. 6 on the Hot 100.

“Stoney End” also became the title track for Streisand’s 1971 studio album. The legendary singer also recorded two other Nyro compositions for the album—“Time and Love” and “Flim Flam Man.” Both songs also were released as singles, but they only reached No. 51 and No. 82, respectively, on the Hot 100.

Nyro’s Posthumous Honors

Nyro was honored posthumously with induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Midler did the honors in induction Nyro into the Rock Hall.

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