The Legend that is Carole King

Posted in Music

3 Jun

Carole King

We are about to write about the history of the brilliant song writer Carole King…But before we do that, I would like to list just some of the songs written or co written by this song writing genius.

I´m into something good (Herman´s Hermits), The Locomotion (Little Eva), It might as well rain until September(King), Oh no not my baby (Maxine Brown), Take good care of my baby (Bobby Vee), Chains (The Cookies), One fine day (Chiffons), Up on the roof (Drifters), You´ve got a friend (James Taylor), You make me feel like a natural woman (Aretha Franklin), Will you love me tomorrow (Shirelles).

Born Carol Klein on February 9, 1942, in Manhattan, New York, to Jewish parents Euginia (a teacher) and Sidney (a fire fighter) raised in Brooklyn, Carole King's amazing musical gift was apparent from the time she was a toddler. Her party piece was the ability to recognise a musical note by sound alone. With help from piano lessons from her mother (herself a talented musician) Klein became an accomplished pianist by the time she turned 10, Klein began writing a multitude of songs by her early teens. Whilst at James Madison High School, she chose the new surname King for herself as a stage name and formed her first quartet, the Co-Sines. She also met at the Madison high school two important people; Paul Simon and Neil Sedaka. King began dating Sedaka briefly and it is said that he wrote the song Oh Carol! about her. King made demo records during high school with Paul Simon and her first official recording was the promotional single The Right Girl, released by ABC-Paramount in 1958, which she wrote and sang to an arrangement by Don Costa.

King attended the Queens College in New York where she met another music person Gerry Goffin and they began dating and – more importantly – began song writing together.

When King was 17, the couple married in a Jewish ceremony on Long Island in August 1959 after King became pregnant with her first daughter,Louise. They quit college and took day jobs, Goffin working as an assistant chemist and King as a secretary.  The passion remained for song writing though and they wrote songs together in the evening.

As mentioned previously, Neil Sedaka had written the song Oh Carole and King and Goffin took the tune and Released Oh Neil! The song was very much a comedic effort and never had nearly as much success.

During the early sixties, with King composing the music and Goffin writing the lyrics, the song writing duo so impressed music publisher Don Kirshner that he signed them to his Aldon Music Empire, where they established themselves immediately by writing the hit singles Will You Love Me Tomorrow for The Shirelles, Take Good Care of My Baby for Bobby Vee and Up on the Roof for The Drifters. It was at this time they also wrote the classic Chains by the Cookies and the Beatles.

They also around this time, wrote a song for their baby sitter Eva Narcissus Boyd and discovered Little Eva … It is often claimed that Goffin and King were amused by Boyd's particular dancing style, so they wrote The Loco-Motion for her and had her record it as a demo (the record was intended for Dee Dee Sharp). However, it was established by all parties that they knew that she could sing and were always going to write music for her. The song was released in 1962 on Dimension records, reached number one and achieved a gold disc.

 The same year King released her first hit single It might as well rain until September. The next few songs released by King herself were not so successful and her solo career was all but abandoned around 1966.

By 1968 the couple´s marriage had hit the rocks due to demands and pressure of work and according to some sources due to Goffin´s infidelity (It is reported that King paid for a house for one of his mistresses to live in) they divorced.

That year, King moved with her two daughters to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles and not long after formed the group The City with future husband Charles Laskey and Danny Korchmar. The band recorded an album Now that everything´s been said but sales were very slow and they disbanded shortly after King went on to join fellow musicians James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, among others, in a creative song writing community. She met Toni Stern, a female lyricist, with whom she wrote the single It's Too Late, a song that would later become one of her biggest hits as a singer. Of that era, she later recalled, "Toni was wonderful help with the transition from writing with Gerry to writing songs on my own … I didn't have the courage initially. James inspired me a lot. I write heavily under the influence of James Taylor."

In 1970 King released her first solo album writer with James Taylor on acoustic guitar and backing vocals on Lou Adler´s record label ode. The album peaked at number 84 in the billboard top 200 chart. King also this year played keyboards on B.B.KING´S album Indianola Mississippi Seeds. King was married to Charles Larkey in this year too, a marriage that was to last six years and produce another daughter.

King followed Writer in 1971 with the iconic album Tapestry, which featured new compositions as well as reinterpretations of Will You Love Me Tomorrow and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. The album was recorded concurrently with Taylor's Mud Slide Slim, with an overlapping set of musicians including King, Danny Korchmar and Joni Mitchell. Both albums included You've Got a Friend, which was a number 1 hit for Taylor.

Tapestry was an immediate success. With numerous hit singles – including a Billboard No.1 with It's Too Late.  Tapestry held the No.1 spot for 15 consecutive weeks, remained in the charts for nearly six years, and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. The album achieved four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year; Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female; Record of the Year (It's Too Late); and Song of the Year, with King becoming the first woman to win the award (You've Got a Friend). The album appeared on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list at number 36. In addition, It's Too Late was number 469 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Her follow-up album to Tapestry, Music (1971), produced a No. 1 hit in Sweet Seasons and reached gold but failed to achieve the rip- roaring status and sales success of its predecessor. King's next few albums, Rhymes and Reasons (1972)Fantasy (1973) Wrap Around Joy (1974)andThoroughbred (1976) , were all certified gold as well. With the album Thoroughbred, she reunited with ex-husband Goffin, and collaborated with Taylor, David Crosby and Graham Nash.



1976 saw the divorce from Larkin. Soon after, she entered her third marriage, to songwriter Rick Evers, in 1977. They relocated to Idaho and lived in a tiny mountain town that fostered King's love of nature and inspired an environmental activism that would shape her life in subsequent decades.

However, although they collaborated on the album Simple Things, which would be among King's last to be certified gold, the relationship soured as Evers became increasingly abusive. It is reported that Evers died of a drug overdose just days after they split in 1978.

Despite its Gold-certified record status, Simple Things was named The Worst Album of 1977 by Rolling Stone magazine. Her next two albums Welcome Home (1978), her debut as a co-producer on an album, nor Touch the Sky (1979) reached the top 100. More success was achieved with her next album Pearls – The Songs of Goffin and King (1980) this album yielded a hit single, an updated version of "One Fine Day".

The 1980s and 1990s saw a dip in her prolific song writing, but not her active lifestyle. King has been working with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies since 1990, advocating for the passage of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA); she testified before Congress twice in support of the legislation. She also became involved in electoral politics, later becoming a strong supporter of Democratic candidates John Kerry and Hillary Clinton in 2004 and 2008, respectively. 

King signed to Atlantic Records for the albums One to One (1982) and Speeding Time in 1983, which was a reunion with Tapestry-era producer Lou Adler. There followed a well-received concert tour in 1984

In 1985, she wrote and performed Care-A-Lot, the theme to The Care Bears Movie. Also in 1985, she scored and performed (with David Sanborn) the soundtrack to the Martin Ritt-directed movieMurphy's Romance. The soundtrack, again produced by Adler, included the songs Running Lonely and Love for the last time (Theme from 'Murphy's Romance'), although a soundtrack album was apparently never officially released. ]King made a cameo appearance in the film as Tillie, a town hall employee.

In 1989, she returned to Capitol Records and recorded the album City Streets, with Eric Clapton on two tracks and Branford Marsalis on one, followed by Colour of Your Dreams (1993), with an appearance by Slash. Her song, Now and Forever, was in the opening credits to the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, and was nominated for a Grammy Award

In 1988, she starred in the off-Broadway production A Minor Incident, and in 1994, she played Mrs Johnstone on Broadway in Blood Brothers. In 1996, she appeared in Brighton Beach Memoirs in Ireland, directed by Peter Sheridan.

By the late 1990s, King was ready to launch something of a comeback in the music industry. She penned the hit The Reason for Celine Dion in 1997 and later performed it alongside the Canadian singer at VH1's Divas Live concert. In 2004, King recorded a well-received live album on her Living Room Tour. More recently, in 2007 she bridged divides of generation and genre by touring Japan with R&B star Mary J. Blige andFergie of the Black Eyed Peas. In 2010, she linked up with long time friend James Taylor for the Troubadour Reunion Tour. The resulting Live at the Troubadour album hit No. 4 on the U.S. charts and confirmed King's lasting power as a force in the music industry.

Having divorced her fourth husband, Idaho rancher Rick Sorenson, King remains happily single and independent in her mountain home. Of her surroundings in the wilderness she says, "When I wake up every morning, I smile and say, 'Thank you.' Because out of my window I can see the mountains, then go hiking with my dog and share her bounding joy in the world."

In the fall of 2011, King released A Holiday Carole, which includes holiday standards and new songs written by her daughter Louise Goffin who co-produced the album. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Album.

King's autobiography, A Natural Woman: A Memoir was published byGrand Central in the United States on April 10, 2012. It entered the New York Times best seller list at No.6.

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, King announced her retirement from music, saying her days in music had most likely ended. King herself doubted she would ever write another song and said that her 2010 Troubadour Reunion Tour with James Taylor was probably the last tour of her life, saying that it was a good way to go out. King also said she will most likely not be writing or recording any new music. On May 22, King wrote on her Facebook page that she never said she was actually retiring and insisted that she was taking a break. Carole campaigned for Idahoan Nicole LeFavour andBarack Obama in 2012.

Early in December 2012, King received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2012 she was given the benefit concert Painted Turtle – a celebration of Carole King. King also did an Australian tour in February 2013. Following the Boston Marathon bombing, she performed in Boston withJames Taylor in order to help victims of the bombing.

In 2013, King made music history as the first woman to receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. President Barack Obama gave her this honour at a special ceremony held at the White House. Around the time she received this award, the legendary singer-songwriter told the Associated Press that she will continue making music and performing. "I still feel that it would be lovely to retire, but that time is not yet here apparently," she said.

King was honoured as MusiCares Person of the Year in January 2014. On December 6, 2015, she was honoured as a Kennedy Center Honoree.

In 2016, King was the headline performer at the British Summer Time Festival held in Hyde Park, London on July 3, 2016, playing all of Tapestry live for the first time. The recorded concert of Tapestry Live was broadcast on UK SkyArts TV in October 2016. An album was released in 2017.

In October 2018, King released a new version of her song, One. In her first new recording since 2011, she was inspired to re-write the lyrics to her song One (originally on her 1977 album Simple things) as One (2018) to reflect her dream for America.

So, we have the life of a music legend, musician, song writer, actress and activist. She has won multiple awards for her music and her campaigning roles and collaborated with some of the biggest music legends.

 Once asked by reporter ¨what would you say now if you could give advice to your younger self¨, King said simply: "You're going to have a very rich and wonderful life."

Kind of sums it all up really…..Ladies and gentleman I give you the music legend that is Carole King.

Related articles

2 Jul
Lisa Stansfield

Lisa Stansfield is a singer, actress and general superstar who has sold over 20 million albums world wide…..whilst keeping the Lancashire girl next door image.

3 Mar

A brief history of the legendary band Queen