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Carole King (born February 9, 1942) is a Grammy Award-winning American singer and songwriter.
Her career began in the 1960s when King, along with her then husband Gerry Goffin, wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists, many of which have become standards, and she has continued writing for other artists since then. Her success as a performer in her own right did not come until the 1970s, when she sang her own songs, accompanying herself on the piano, in a series of albums and concerts. After experiencing commercial disappointment with her debut album Writer, King scored her breakthrough with the album Tapestry which topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971 and remained on the charts for more than six years.
In 2000, Joel Whitburn, a Billboard Magazine pop music researcher, named her the most successful female songwriter of 1955–99 because she wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2005 music historian Stuart Devoy found her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts 1952–2005.
King has made 25 solo albums, the most successful being Tapestry, which held the record for most weeks at #1 by a female artist for more than 20 years until broken by Whitney Houston (for the soundtrack album The Bodyguard). Her most recent non-compilation album was Live at the Troubadour in 2010, a collaboration with James Taylor that reached number 4 on the charts in its first week and has sold over 600,000 copies.
She has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting. She is the recipient of the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first woman to be so honored.
Early life and sixties song-writing (1942–1969)
King was born Carol Joan Klein in February 1942, to a Jewish family, in Manhattan. Her mother, Eugenia (née Cammer), was a teacher, and her father, Sidney N. Klein, was a firefighter. She grew up in Brooklyn, learning the piano when she was four years old, and appearing on The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour with a school friend, performing "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake" when she was eight. While at James Madison High School in the 1950s, Carol Klein changed her name to Carole King, formed a band called the Co-Sines, and made demo records with her friend Paul Simon for $25 a session. 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. She attended Queens College, where she met Gerry Goffin, who was to become her song-writing partner. When she was 17, they married in a Jewish ceremony on Long Island in August 1959 after King had become pregnant with her first daughter, Louise. They left college and took daytime jobs, Goffin working as an assistant chemist and King as a secretary, while writing songs together in the evening at an office belonging to Don Kirshner's Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway opposite the Brill Building.
Neil Sedaka, who had dated King when he was still at high school, had a hit in 1959 with "Oh! Carol"; Goffin took the tune and wrote the playful response "Oh! Neil", which King recorded and released as a single the same year; the B-side contained the Goffin-King song "A Very Special Boy". The single was not a success; however, after writing "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", which topped the American charts in 1960 in a recording by the Shirelles, becoming the first No.1 hit by a black girl group, Goffin and King gave up the daytime jobs in order to concentrate on writing. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" has gone on to become a standard, recorded by numerous artists.
During the sixties, with King writing the music and Goffin the lyrics, they wrote a string of classic songs for a variety of artists,. For part of this period King and Goffin were the songwriting team behind Don Kirshner's Dimension Records, which produced songs including "Chains" (later covered by the Beatles), "The Loco-Motion" for their babysitter Little Eva and "It Might As Well Rain Until September" which King recorded herself—her first (and only Sixties) hit. Other songs of this period include : "Half Way To Paradise" [Tony Orlando, covered by Billy Fury in U.K.], "Take Good Care of My Baby" for Bobby Vee; "Up on the Roof" for the Drifters; "I'm into Something Good" for Earl-Jean (later covered by Herman's Hermits); "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees (inspired by their move to suburban West Orange, New Jersey); and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" for Aretha Franklin.
By 1968, Goffin and King were divorced and were starting to lose contact. King moved to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with her two daughters and formed the City, a music trio consisting of Charles Larkey, her future husband, on bass, Danny Kortchmar on guitar and vocals, and King on piano and vocals. The City produced one album, Now That Everything's Been Said in 1968, but King's reluctance to perform live meant sales were slow, and after a change of distributors it got deleted early, and the group disbanded in 1969.
Seventies singer-songwriter and Tapestry (1970–1979)
While in Laurel Canyon, King met James Taylor and Joni Mitchell as well as Toni Stern, with whom she would collaborate on songs. King made her first solo album, Writer, in 1970 for Lou Adler's Ode label, with Taylor playing acoustic guitar and providing backing vocals. It peaked at number 84 in the Billboard Top 200. King followed Writer in 1971 with Tapestry, featuring recent solo compositions as well as reinterpretations of two Goffin-King songs, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". The album was recorded in an overlap with Taylor's Mud Slide Slim on which King, Danny Kortchmar, and Joni Mitchell appeared as they did on Tapestry, with both albums including "You've Got a Friend", which was a number 1 hit for Taylor; King said in a 1972 interview, that she "didn't write it with James or anybody really specifically in mind. But when James heard it he really liked it and wanted to record it". Tapestry was an instant 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 on the charts for nearly six years, and has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. The album garnered four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year; Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female; Record of the Year ("It's Too Late," lyrics by Toni Stern); 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 placed at number 469 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Carole King: Music was released in December 1971, certified gold on December 9, 1971. It entered the top ten at 8, becoming the first of many weeks Tapestry and Carole King: Music simultaneously occupied the top 10. The following week it rose to No.3 and finally to No.1 on January 1, 1972, staying there for three weeks. The album also spawned a top 10 hit, "Sweet Seasons" (US No.9 and AC #2). Carole King: Music stayed on the Billboard pop album charts for 44 weeks and was eventually certified platinum.
Rhymes and Reasons (1972), and Fantasy (1973) followed, each earning gold certifications. Rhymes and Reasons produced another hit, "Been to Canaan" (US No.24 and AC No.1), and Fantasy produced two hits, "Believe in Humanity" (US #28) and "Corazon" (US No.37 and AC #5), as well as another song that charted on the Hot 100, "You Light Up My Life" (US No.68 and AC #6).
In 1973, King performed a free concert in New York City's Central Park with 100,000 attending.
In September 1974, King released her album Wrap Around Joy, which was certified gold on October 16, 1974 and entered the top ten at 7 on October 19, 1974. Two weeks later it reached 1 and stayed there one week. She toured to promote the album. Wrap Around Joy spawned two hits. "Jazzman" was a single and reached 2 on November 9 but fell out of the top ten the next week. "Nightingale", a single on December 17, went to No.9 on March 1, 1975.
In 1975, King scored songs for the animated TV production of Maurice Sendak's Really Rosie, released as an album by the same name, with lyrics by Sendak.
Thoroughbred (1976) was the last studio album she made under the Ode label. In addition to enlisting her long-time friends such as David Crosby, Graham Nash, James Taylor and Waddy Wachtel, King reunited with Gerry Goffin to write four songs for the album. Their partnership continued intermittently. King also did a promotional tour for the album in 1976.
In 1977, King collaborated with another songwriter Rick Evers on Simple Things, the first release with a new label distributed by Capitol Records. Shortly after that King and Evers were married; he died of a cocaine overdose one year later. Simple Things was her first album that failed to reach the top 10 on the Billboard since Tapestry, and it was her last Gold-certified record by the RIAA, except for a compilation entitled Her Greatest Hits the following year. Despite its Gold-certified record status, Simple Things was named "The Worst Album of 1977" by Rolling Stone magazine. Neither Welcome Home (1978), her debut as a co-producer on an album, nor Touch the Sky (1979), reached the top 100. Pearls – The Songs of Goffin and King (1980) yielded a hit single, an updated version of "One Fine Day".
Later life and work (1982–present)
King moved to Atlantic Records for One to One (1982), and Speeding Time in 1983, which was a reunion with Tapestry-era producer Lou Adler. In 1983, she played piano in "Chains and Things" on the B.B. King album Why I Sing The Blues. After a well-received concert tour in 1984, journalist Catherine Foster of the Christian Science Monitor dubbed King "a Queen of Rock". She also called King's performing as "all spunk and exuberance."
In 1985, she wrote and performed "Care-A-Lot", theme to The Care Bears Movie. Also in 1985, she scored and performed (with David Sanborn) the soundtrack to the Martin Ritt-directed movie Murphy'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 City Streets, with Eric Clapton on two tracks and Branford Marsalis on one, followed by Color of Your Dreams (1993), with an appearance by Slash of Guns N' Roses. 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. In 1991, she wrote with Mariah Carey the song "If It's Over", for Carey's second album Emotions. In 1996, she wrote "Wall Of Smiles/Torre De Marfil" with Soraya for her 1997 album of the same title.
In early 1991 saw the release of Dave Rawlings and Ronnie Herel as Production outfit Quartz featuring an unknown singer Dina Carroll who provided the vocals on their notable cover of Carole King's "It's Too Late" taken from her Diamond selling album Tapestry, which topped the dance charts worldwide and reached #8 in the UK Singles Chart in 1991. It was hoped that King would appear in the filming of the video for the song but declined citing her heavy tour schedule at that time.
In 1997, King wrote and recorded backing vocals on "The Reason" for Celine Dion on her album Let's Talk About Love. The song sold worldwide, including one million in France. It went to number 1 in France, 11 in the UK, and 13 in Ireland. The pair performed a duet on the first VH1 Divas Live benefit concert. King also performed her "You've Got A Friend" with Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain as well as "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" with Aretha Franklin and others, including Mariah Carey. In 1998, King wrote "Anyone at All", and performed it in You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
In 2001, King appeared in a television ad for the Gap, with her daughter, Louise Goffin. She performed a new song, "Love Makes the World", which became a title track for her studio album in autumn 2001 on her own label, Rockingale, distributed by Koch Records. The album includes songs she wrote for other artists during the mid-1990s and features Celine Dion, Steven Tyler, Babyface and k.d. lang. Love Makes the World went to 158 in the US and No.86 in the UK. It also debuted on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart and Top Internet Albums chart at #20. An expanded edition of the album was issued six years later called Love Makes the World Deluxe Edition. It contains a bonus disc with five additional tracks, including a remake of "Where You Lead (I Will Follow)" co-written with Toni Stern.
The same year, King and Stern wrote "Sayonara Dance", recorded by Yuki, former lead vocalist of the Japanese band Judy and Mary, on her first solo album Prismic the following year. Also in 2001, King composed a song for All About Chemistry album by Semisonic, with the band's frontman Dan Wilson.
King launched her Living Room Tour in July 2004 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. That show, along with shows at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and the Cape Cod Melody Tent (Hyannis, Massachusetts) were recorded as The Living Room Tour in July 2005. The album sold 44,000 copies in its first week in the US, landing at 17 on the Billboard 200, her highest-charting album since 1977. The album also charted at 51 in Australia. It has sold 330,000 copies in the United States. In August 2006 the album reentered the Billboard 200 at 151. The tour stopped in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A DVD of the tour, called Welcome to My Living Room, was released in October 2007.
In November 2007, King toured Japan with Mary J. Blige and Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas. Japanese record labels Sony and Victor reissued most of King's albums, including the works from the late 1970s previously unavailable on compact disc. King recorded a duet of the Goffin/King composition "Time Don't Run Out on Me" with Anne Murray on Murray's 2007 album Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends. The song had previously been recorded by Murray for her 1984 album Heart Over Mind.
In 2010, King and James Taylor staged their Troubadour Reunion Tour together, recalling the first time they played at The Troubadour, West Hollywood in 1970. The pair had reunited two and a half years earlier in 2007 with the band they used in 1970 to mark the club's 50th anniversary. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to take the band on the road for 2010. The touring band featured players from that original band: Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, and Danny Kortchmar. Also present was King's son-in-law, Robbie Kondor. King played piano and Taylor guitar on each other's songs, and they sang together some of the numbers they were both associated with. The tour began in Australia in March, returning to the United States in May. It was a major commercial success, with King playing to some of the largest audiences of her career. Total ticket sales exceeded 700,000 and the tour grossed over 59 million dollars, making it one of the most successful tours of the year.
During their Troubadour Reunion Tour, Carole King released two albums, one with James Taylor. The first, released on April 27, 2010, The Essential Carole King, is a two-disc compilation album. The first disc features many songs Carole King has recorded, mostly her hit singles. The second disc features recordings by other artists of songs that King wrote, most of which made the top 40, and many of which reached No.1. The second album was released on May 4, 2010 and is a collaboration of King and James Taylor called Live at the Troubadour, which debuted at No.4 in the United States with sales of 78,000 copies. Live at the Troubadour has since received a gold record from the RIAA for shipments of over 500,000 copies in the US and has remained on the charts for 34 weeks, currently charting at No.170 on the Billboard 200.
On December 22, 2010, Carole King's mother, Eugenia Gingold, died in the Hospice Care unit at Delray Medical Center in Delray Beach, Florida at the age of 94. King stated that the cause of death was congestive heart failure. Gingold's passing was reported by the Miami Herald on January 1, 2011.
In the fall of 2011 she released A Holiday Carole, which includes holiday standards and new songs written by her daughter Louise Goffin who also is producer for the album.
Her autobiography "A Natural Woman: A Memoir" was published by Grand Central in the United States on April 10, 2012. It entered the NYT best seller list at #6.
On Thursday, May 10, 2012, it was announced that Carole King was retiring from music and that her days in music have most likely ended. King herself also 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 stated that she will most likely not be writing or recording any new music. However, on May 22, King wrote on her Facebook page that she never said she was actually retiring, and insisted that she was just "taking a break." Carole campaigned for Idahoan Nicole Lefavour and Barack Obama in 2012. Early in December 2012, Carole received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song by the Library of Congress and she had the benefit concert 'Painted Turtle - a celebration of Carole King'. King also did an Australian tour in February 2013. Following the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013, she performed in Boston with James Taylor in order to help victims of the bombing.
In late 2012, The Library of Congress announced that Carole King had been named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song - the first woman to receive the distinction given to songwriters for a body of work. "Carole King has been one of the most influential songwriters of our time," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement accompanying the announcement. "For more than five decades, she has written for and been recorded by many different types of artists for a wide range of audiences, communicating with beauty and dignity the universal human emotions of love, joy, pain and loss. Her body of work reflects the spirit of the Gershwin Prize with its originality, longevity and diversity of appeal." President and Mrs. Barack Obama hosted the Gershwin Award concert at the White House May 22, 2013, when the President presented the Gershwin Award to Carole King. In June 2013 she campaigned in Massachusetts for US Representative Ed Markey, the Democratic nominee in a special election for the US Senate to succeed John Kerry who had resigned to become Secretary of State.
Carole King was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year in January 2014.
King has appeared sporadically in acting roles, notably three appearances as guest star on the TV series Gilmore Girls as Sophie, the owner of the Stars Hollow music store. King's song "Where You Lead (I Will Follow)" was also the theme song to the series, in a version sung with her daughter Louise. King also appeared as Mrs. Johnstone as a replacement in the original Broadway production of Blood Brothers.
Personal life and family
King has been married four times, to Gerry Goffin, Charles Larkey, Rick Evers, and Rick Sorenson. In her 2012 memoir A Natural Woman, King wrote that she had been physically abused by her third husband, Rick Evers, on a regular basis. Evers died of a cocaine overdose in 1978.
Her children are musicians Louise Goffin and Sherry Goffin, artist Molly Larkey, and Levi Larkey.
Political and environmental activism
After relocating to Idaho in 1977, King became involved in environmental issues. Since 1990, she has been working with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other groups towards passage of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). King has testified on Capitol Hill three times on behalf of NREPA: in 1994, 2007 and again in 2009.
King is also politically active in the United States Democratic Party. In 2003, she began campaigning for John Kerry, performing in private homes for caucus delegates during the Democratic primaries. On July 29, 2004, she made a short speech and sang at the Democratic National Convention, about two hours before Kerry made his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for President. King continued her support of Kerry throughout the general election. When Kerry was named Secretary of State in 2013 she campaigned with US Representative Ed Markey, the Democratic nominee to succeed Kerry in a special election.
In 2008, King appeared on the March 18 episode of The Colbert Report, touching on her politics again. She said she was supporting Hillary Clinton, and said the choice had nothing to do with gender. She also said she would have no issues if Barack Obama won the election. Before the show's conclusion, she returned to the stage to perform "I Feel the Earth Move".
Tributes and covers
An all-star roster of artists paid tribute to King on the 1995 album Tapestry Revisited: A Tribute to Carole King. From the album, Rod Stewart's version of "So Far Away" and Celine Dion's cover of "A Natural Woman" were both Adult Contemporary chart hits. Other artists who appeared on the album included Amy Grant ("It's Too Late"), Richard Marx ("Beautiful"), Aretha Franklin ("You've Got a Friend"), Faith Hill ("Where You Lead"), and the Bee Gees ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow?").
Former Monkee Micky Dolenz released King for a Day, a tribute album consisting of songs written or co-written by King, in 2010. The album includes "Sometime in the Morning", a King-penned song originally recorded by the Monkees in 1967. Dolenz had previously recorded another of King's Monkees compositions, "Porpoise Song", on his lullaby-themed CD Micky Dolenz Puts You to Sleep.
Many other cover versions of King's work have appeared over the years. Most notably, "You've Got a Friend" was a smash No.1 hit for James Taylor in 1971 and a top 40 hit for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway that same year. Isaac Hayes recorded "It's Too Late" for his No.1 R&B live album Live at the Sahara Tahoe. Barbra Streisand had a top 40 hit in 1972 with "Where You Lead" twice – by itself and as part of a live medley with "Sweet Inspiration". Streisand also covered "No Easy Way Down" in 1971, "Beautiful" and "You've Got A Friend" in 1972, and "Being At War With Each Other" in 1974. Helen Reddy covered two Carole King penned tunes: the first was "No Sad Song" in 1971; the second was "I Can't Hear You No More" in 1976. The Carpenters recorded King's "It's Going to Take Some Time" in 1972, and reached number 12 on the Billboard charts. Richard Carpenter produced a version of "You've Got A Friend" with then teen singer/actor Scott Grimes in 1989. Martika had a number 25 hit in 1989 with her version of "I Feel the Earth Move", and "It's Too Late" reappeared on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1995 by Gloria Estefan. Linda Ronstadt recorded a new version of "Oh No Not My Baby" in 1993. Celine Dion also recorded King's song "The Reason" on her 1997 album Let's Talk About Love with Carole King singing backup and it became a million-seller and was certified Diamond in France. "Where You Lead" (lyrics by Toni Stern) became the title song of TV show Gilmore Girls. Mandy Moore covered "I Feel the Earth Move" on her 2003 album, Coverage.
In 1996, a film very loosely based on her life, Grace of My Heart, was released. In the film an aspiring singer sacrifices her own singing career to write hit songs that launch the careers of other singers. Mirroring King's life, the film follows her from her first break, through the pain of rejection from the recording industry and a bad marriage, to her final triumph in realizing her dream to record her own hit album.
Biographical Broadway musical
A musical version of King's life and career debuted in pre-Broadway tryouts in September 2013, in San Francisco, titled Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. It starred Jessie Mueller in the title role. Previews on Broadway began on November 21, 2013 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, with the official opening on January 12, 2014. The book is by Douglas McGrath. Reviews were mixed, but generally warm.
In 1987, Goffin and King were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 1988, Goffin and King received the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1990, King was inducted, along with Goffin, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the non-performer category for her songwriting achievements.
In 2002, King was given the "Johnny Mercer Award" by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 2004, Goffin and King were awarded the Grammy Trustees Award.
King was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 2012 (December 3), King received the 2,486th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In February 2013, King was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
On May 22, 2013, President Barack Obama presented Carole King with the fourth Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first awarded to a woman composer. The White House concert and awards ceremony capped off two days of events celebrating Carole King. On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, the Library of Congress hosted an invitation-only concert at their Coolidge Auditorium in honor of Carole King. The all-star tribute included performances by Siedah Garrett, Colbie Caillat, Gian Marco, Shelby Lynne, Patti Austin, Arturo Sandoval and King's daughter, Louise Goffin. The following night at the White House King was joined by other star performers including James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Emeli Sandé, Trisha Yearwood, Jesse McCartney and Billy Joel.
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carol reviewed: Carole King @ Gila River Arena
Although the venue was not one for good acoustics, the high-energy, fun-loving performances by King and Taylor were infectious as the crowd was with every song, every lyric every set. It was the best show i've been to in 10 years and for two-hours, i was 17 again, in love with my boyfriend (which i truly am...Bob) and am still revelling in the afterglow of a great show. These two master singer-song writers are classics and shouldn't be missed if they hit your town. Tickets were also reasonbly priced, so all in all, Keep rollin' and rockin' Carole and James, you are icons of REAL music, meaningful lyrics and a passion for entertainment that is timeless. Yours, Carol, Chandler, AZ.