My Legends of Pop Music – Part Forty-Four – Carole King

If get this right, there will be many cover versions by future bands. I shall try and link live versions if they exist from the tellybox or a film, the sound quality may not be the best, but there is nothing like watching a real talent live.

Carole King came to our notice in that late 50’s and in 1962 had the classic song “It Might as Well Rain Until September” .  However, I just love another classic for the featured song which is of course “Will you still love me tomorrow

Courtesy of Wiki: Carole King

King was born Carol Joan Klein on February 9, 1942, in Manhattan, New York City, to Jewish parents Eugenia (née Cammer), a teacher, and Sidney N. Klein, a firefighter. King’s parents met in an elevator in 1936 at Brooklyn College, where her father was a chemistry major and her mother was an English and drama major.

They married in 1937 during the last years of the Great Depression.  King’s mother dropped out of college to run the household; her father also quit college and briefly took a job as a radio announcer.  With the economy struggling, he then took a more secure job as a firefighter.  After King was born, her parents remained in Brooklyn and were eventually able to buy a small two-story duplex where they could rent out the upstairs for income.

King’s mother had learned how to play piano as a child, and after buying a piano, would sometimes practice. When King developed an insatiable curiosity about music from the time she was about three, her mother began teaching her basic piano skills, without giving her actual lessons.  When King was four, her parents discovered she had absolute pitch, which enabled her to name a note correctly just by hearing it.  King’s father enjoyed showing off his daughter’s skill to visiting friends: “My dad’s smile was so broad that it encompassed the lower half of his face. I enjoyed making my father happy and getting the notes right.”

King began kindergarten when she was four, and after her first year she was promoted directly to second grade, showing an exceptional facility with words and numbers.  In the 1950s, she went to James Madison High School. She formed a band called the Co-Sines, changed her name from Carol Klein to Carole King, 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.

King attended Queens College, where she met Gerry Goffin, who was to become her songwriting partner. When she was 17, they 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. They wrote songs together in the evening.

Neil Sedaka, who had dated King when he was still in 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. After writing the Shirelles‘ Billboard Hot 100 number 1 hit “Will You Love Me Tomorrow“, the first No.1 hit by a black girl group, Goffin and King gave up their daytime jobs to concentrate on writing. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” became a standard.

During the sixties, with King composing the music and Goffin writing the lyrics, the two wrote a string of classic songs for a variety of artists. King and Goffin were also the songwriting team behind Don Kirshner’s Dimension Records, which produced songs including “Chains” (later recorded by the Beatles), “The Loco-Motion“, “Keep Your Hands off My Baby” (both for their babysitter Little Eva), and “It Might as Well Rain Until September” which King recorded herself in 1962—her first hit.  King recorded a few follow-up singles in the wake of “September”, but none of them sold much, and her already sporadic recording career was entirely abandoned (albeit temporarily) by 1966.

Other songs of King’s early period (through 1967) include “Half Way To Paradise” [Tony Orlando, recorded 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 recorded by Herman’s Hermits), “One Fine Day” for the Chiffons, and “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. The duo wrote several songs recorded by Dusty Springfield, including “Goin’ Back” and “Some of Your Lovin'”.

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 reactivated her recording career by forming “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. A change of distributors meant that the album was quickly deleted; the group disbanded in 1969. The album was re-discovered by Classic Rock radio in the early 1980s and the cut “Snow Queen” received nominal airplay for a few years. Cleveland’s WMMS played it every few weeks from 1981 to 1985, and the long-out-of-print LP became sought after by fans of Carole King who like the edgy sound of the music.

While in Laurel Canyon, King met James Taylor and Joni Mitchell as well as Toni Stern, with whom she collaborated on songs.[20] King made her first solo album, Writer, in 1970 for Lou Adler’s Ode label, with Taylor playing acoustic guitar and providing backing vocals.[44] It peaked at number 84 in the Billboard Top 200. The same year, King played keyboards on B.B. King‘s album Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

King followed Writer in 1971 with 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 Kortchmar and Joni Mitchell. Both albums included “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”.

The album 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“)

Discography: Carole King

Carole King – It Might as Well Rain Until September -Super song, recorded by so many artists.

Carole King – It’s Too Late (from Welcome To My Living Room)

Carole King (Live) – I Feel The Earth Move

Carole King – “So Far Away” with James Taylor – live

Carole King – Smackwater Jack (Letterman,1994)

Carole King – You’ve Got a Friend (Live at Montreux, 1973)

Carole King – Sweet Seasons (Live at Farm Aid 1985)

Carole King – Been To Canaan – a really pleasant tune this,

Carole King & James Taylor – Jazzman – MSG October 2016

One of my favourite tracks of all time is Carole King – One Fine Day 2008 live performance.

I do not often do this this, but one of the best cover versions is One Fine Day this time by The Chiffons, here they are in 2014.

So many top tunes to list that she either wrote and sang, or wrote for other artists, but these are some of my favourites.

Singalong, enjoy and be happy!

Links to previous Legend articles:

1-Buddy Holly 2-Elvis Presley 3-Everly brothers 4-Cliff Richard 5-Joe Brown
6-Gerry and the Pacemakers 7-Roy Orbison 8-The Seekers 9-The Hollies 10-The Rolling Stones
11-Beach Boys 12-The Monkees 13-Rod Stewart 14-T-Rex 15-Slade
16-10CC 17-Pussycat 18-The Kinks 19-Blondie 20-Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music
21-David Bowie 22-Meatloaf 23-The Temptations 24-Dusty Springfield 25-Fleetwood Mac
26-Gilbert O’Sullivan 27-The Four Tops 28-Chas ‘n’ Dave 29-Diana Ross and The Supremes 30-Status Quo
31-Jim Reeves 32-The Small Faces 33-The Doobie Brothers 34-Manfred Mann 35-Creedence Clearwater Revival
36-Otis Redding 37-Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons 38-Squeeze 39-Duran Duran 40-Dire Straits
41-Chuck Berry 42-Thin Lizzy 43-ABBA 44-Carole King

Featured image: “Carole King – Tapestry” by Piano Piano! is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

© Phil the ex test manager 2022