|Chapin, w/ his daughter|
Elektra Records and Columbia Records actually battled over signing him, and Harry ended up signing w/ Elektra as this smaller company would provide the artist with "greater personal attention to his unique work." Elektra Records had just merged with Warner Brothers and Atlantic Records to form the mammoth WEA, and Harry Chapin happened to be the first test of who now had the greater artist signing power. The band was in the right place at the right time and were able to negotiate what was said to be the largest recording contract in history for a new artist.
Chapin ultimately signed with Elektra for a smaller advance, but with provisions that were much more valuable. The biggest stipulation in the nine-album deal was that he receive free studio time, meaning he paid no recording costs. It was a move that would ultimately save Chapin hundreds of thousands of dollars over the term of his contract and set a precedent for other musicians. "This was completely unheard of," said Davis in the Coan book. "There was no such thing as free studio time."
On Thursday, July 16, 1981, just after noon, Chapin was driving in the left lane on the Long Island Expressway at about 65 mph on the way to perform at a free concert scheduled for later that evening at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York. Near exit 40 in Jericho he put on his emergency flashers, presumably because of either a mechanical or medical problem (possibly a heart attack). He then slowed to about 15 miles (24 km) per hour and veered into the center lane, nearly colliding with another car. He swerved left, then to the right again, ending up directly in the path of a tractor-trailer truck. The truck could not brake in time and rammed the rear of Chapin's blue 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit, rupturing the fuel tank as it climbed up and over the back of the car, causing it to burst into flames.
His epitaph is actually are his own words from the song, ""I Wonder What Would Happen to this World." He was 44 years old at the time of his death. - Source: wikipedia
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