Carole King

A veteran of the music business by the time of her 1970 genre-defining release Tapestry, Carole King played an important role in pop music songwriting from the mid-twentieth century onward. King was born in New York City in 1942. Her parents noticed her perfect pitch and began teaching her piano when she was aged four. In high school, King formed her first band, the Co-Sines, and performed on demo records for Paul Simon. The year 1958 saw King’s first single, “The Right Girl,” for ABC. At Queen’s College, King met future husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, and the pair married in 1959. They quit college and took day jobs before their song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?,” recorded by the Shirelles, became a number 1 hit in 1960. In 1962, King and Goffin became the primary songwriters for Dimension Records. The same year saw King’s first hit as a singer, “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” but subsequent records did not perform well and by 1966 she had effectively stopped recording.

Prior to her divorce from Goffin in 1968, the pair wrote classic songs for Aretha Franklin, the Monkees, the Drifters, and others. King relocated to Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon following the divorce and formed a trio, the City, which released one album, Now That Everything’s Been Said, prior to disbanding in 1969. In the Canyon, King befriended fellow singer-songwriters Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, the latter of whom encouraged her to launch a solo career. In 1970 she released Writer for Ode Records, but the album did not perform well. The following year, she released Tapestry, which stayed on the charts for six years, sold over 25 million copies worldwide, launched a number of hit songs, and is, in retrospect, the defining album of the singer-songwriter movement in the 1970s. Recorded simultaneously to Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim album, the projects shared musicians and Taylor’s encouragement led King to rerecord versions of her songs from the 1960s and debut new original material. Following Tapestry, each of King’s 1970s efforts reached the Billboard Top 10 until 1977’s Simple Things, her first recording after switching from Ode to Capitol. Through the 1980s and 1990s, King continued to record, write songs for other artists, and began acting on Broadway. The television show Gilmore Girls, which premiered in 2000, featured a rerecorded “Where You Lead” as the main theme and King would later play a recurring minor character in the show. In the late 2000s, many of King’s less popular albums were reissued by Sony and Victor. In 2013, King’s position in the master narrative of popular music was cemented when she became the first woman to be awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.