Carole King (born February 9, 1942) is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. While she has been a successful songwriter for decades, her singing career and fame peaked during the first half of the 1970s.
King has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting, along with long-time partner Gerry Goffin.
Born Carole Klein in 1942 to a Jewish household in Brooklyn, New York, King started out playing the piano and then moved on to singing, forming a vocal quartet called the Co-Sines at James Madison High School.
She attended Queens College, where she was a classmate of Neil Sedaka and inspired Sedaka's first big hit, "Oh! Carol." She wrote "Oh! Neil" in return. While attending Queens College, King befriended Paul Simon and Gerry Goffin.
Partnership with Gerry Goffin
Goffin and King soon formed a songwriting partnership. Working for Aldon Music in the Brill Building, where chart-topping hits were churned out during the 1960s, the Goffin-King partnership first hit it big with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". Recorded by The Shirelles, the song topped the charts in 1961; it was later recorded by Ben E King, Dusty Springfield, Laura Branigan, Little Eva, Roberta Flack, The Four Seasons, Bryan Ferry and King herself. As with many of King's compositions, the song has been recorded by too many artists to enumerate and continues to be recorded to this day.
Goffin and King married in September 1960 and had two daughters, Louise Goffin and Sherry Goffin Kondor, both of whom also became musicians.
In 1965, Goffin and King wrote a theme song for Sidney Sheldon's new television series, I Dream of Jeannie, but the song was not used. Instead, an instrumental theme by Hugo Montenegro was used.
Their 1967 song "Pleasant Valley Sunday", a #3 hit for The Monkees, was inspired by their move to suburban West Orange, New Jersey. Goffin and King also wrote several songs for Head, the Monkees' feature film.
Goffin and King divorced in 1968.
Hits by Goffin and King
U.S. Hot 100
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow"
Carole King (in 1971), The Four Seasons, Roberta Flack, Amy Winehouse, Melanie, Jackie DeShannon, Len Barry, Bunny Sigler, Cissy Houston, The Platters, Neil Diamond (in 1993), Linda Ronstadt, Angus Tung (in Mandarin), Shirley Kwan and Alan Tam (in Cantonese), Dave Mason (under the title "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"), The Rocky Fellers
"Take Good Care of My Baby"
Dion and the Belmonts (later in 1961), Smokie (in 1981), Bobby Vee, Stephen Collins, Dick Brave
"Some Kind of Wonderful"
Marvin Gaye (in 1968), Carole King (in 1971); not the same song as the Grand Funk Railroad hit
"Halfway to Paradise"
Billy Fury (1962), Bobby Vinton(1968), Tina Charles(1977)
"Every Breath I Take"
no relation to The Police's "Every Breath You Take"
"Walkin' with My Angel"
The Beatles (in 1963), Carole King (in 1980)
"Keep Your Hands Off My Baby"
The Beatles (in 1964, unreleased until 1994)
The Chiffons (in 1963), Emerson Lake & Powell (instrumental), Grand Funk Railroad (in 1974, #1), Carole King (in 1980), Kylie Minogue (in 1988, #3), Tina Turner, Dwight Yoakam
"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)"
The Motels (in 1982), Hole (in 1994), Grizzly Bear (in 2007)
"Go Away Little Girl"
Mark Wynter, The Tams, Donny Osmond (in 1971, #1), The Happenings (in 1966, #12)
"Point Of No Return"
"Crying in the Rain"
The Everly Brothers
A-ha (in 1990, #1 in Norway), Dave Edmunds
"Don't Say Nothing Bad (About My Baby)"
"I Can't Stay Mad At You"
Donny Osmond (in 1972, #9), George Benson ("Livin' Inside Your Love" in 1977), Carole King (in 1980), Billy Joel (Greatest Hits Volume III in 1997), Bob James & David Sanborn, Bobby Vee (as part of a medley with The Temptations' hit My Girl in 1968, #35)
"One Fine Day"
Rita Coolidge (in 1979, #66), Carole King (in 1980, #12), Aaron Neville (in 1993), Natalie Merchant (in 1996)
"Up on the Roof"
Kenny Lynch (1964),King (in 1970), Laura Nyro (in 1970), James Taylor (in 1979, #28), Neil Diamond (in 1993), Billy Joe Royal, Peter Cincotti
"I Can't Hear You No More"
Dusty Springfield (in 1965), King (in 1970), Helen Reddy (in 1976, #29)
"I'm into Something Good"
Herman's Hermits (later in 1964, #13)
"Oh No Not My Baby"
Manfred Mann (in 1965), Dusty Springfield (in 1965), Aretha Franklin (in 1970), Rod Stewart (in 1973, #59), The Partridge Family (Bulletin Board in 1973), King (in 1980 and 2001), Cher (in 1992), Linda Ronstadt (in 1994)
"Don't Forget About Me"
"Don't Bring Me Down"
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (in 1986)
The Byrds (in 1968, #86), King (in 1980), Larry Lurex (1973) Nils Lofgren,Elkie Brooks Johnny Logan, Diana Ross, Glen Shorrock & Renee Geyer (Aust. 1983)
"I Can't Make It Alone"
Dusty Springfield, Maria McKee (in 1993)
"Pleasant Valley Sunday"
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"
King (in 1971), Laura Nyro (in 1971), Rod Stewart (in 1974), Mary J. Blige (in 1995), Celine Dion (in 1995)
"Wasn't Born to Follow"
King (in 1980)
"Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)"
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Dusty Springfield (non-LP B-Side in 1969), King (in 1980)
In 1966 artist Peter Max introduced King to guru Sri Swami Satchidananda, who became a friend and adviser to King.
In 1968, King was hired to co-write two songs for Strawberry Alarm Clock with Toni Stern, "Lady of the Lake" and "Blues for a Young Girl Gone," which appeared on the album, The World in a Seashell.
King began to focus on her own singing career. She sang backup vocals on the demo of Little Eva's hit "The Loco-Motion". She had had a modest hit in 1962 singing one of her own songs, "It Might As Well Rain Until September" (#22 in the US and a top 10 success in the UK, later a hit in Canada for Gary and Dave), but after "He's a Bad Boy" made #94 in 1963, it would take King eight years to reach the Hot 100 singles chart again as a performer.
As the '60s waned, King helped pioneer a record label, Tomorrow Records, divorced Goffin and married Charles Larkey (of the Myddle Class).
Moving to the West Coast, Larkey, King and Danny Kortchmar formed a group called The City, which released one album, Now That Everything's Been Said, but the album was a commercial failure. King then released Writer (1970), a critically acclaimed record, but another commercial failure.
Tapestry and beyond
King followed up Writer in 1971 with Tapestry, featuring new folk-flavored compositions, as well as reinterpretations of two of her early pop hits as a songwriter, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Tapestry was an instant success and was soon recognized as one of the landmark albums of the singer-songwriter genre of the early 1970s. With numerous hit singles, Tapestry would remain on the charts for nearly six years and sell over 10 million copies in the United States and an estimated 22 million 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 ("You've Got a Friend"). The album signalled the era of platinum albums, though it was issued prior to the invention of the platinum certification by the RIAA.
Tapestry became the top-selling pop solo album ever, a position it held until the release of Michael Jackson's Thriller in 1982. The album was later placed at #36 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. In addition, "It's Too Late" was placed at #469 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Music (1971), Rhymes and Reasons (1972), and Fantasy (1973) followed, each earning either a gold or platinum RIAA certification.
In 1973, King performed a free concert in New York City's Central Park and broke all previous records for such a concert with over 100,000 people attending.
King also enjoyed major success with her 1974 album Wrap Around Joy and the subsequent tour to promote the album. The album reached number #1 on the Billboard charts and, for only the second time in her career, she had a song reach as high as #2 on the singles chart with "Jazzman."
In 1975, King scored a number of songs for the animated TV production of Maurice Sendak's work Really Rosie, which was also released as an album by the same name, with lyrics by Sendak.
Thoroughbred (1976) was the last studio album she released 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. The songwriting partnership between King and her former husband continued intermittently in later years. King also did a promotional tour for the album in 1976.
In 1977, King collaborated with another songwriting partner Rick Evers on Simple Things, the first release under her contract with a new label distributed by Capitol Records. King married Evers shortly thereafter; he died of a heroin overdose one year later. Simple Things became her first album which failed to reach the top 10 on the Billboard since Tapestry, and it would be her last Gold-certified record by the RIAA, except a compilation entitled Her Greatest Hits released in the following year. Neither Welcome Home (1978), which marked 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) was moderately successful and yielded a hit single, an updated version of "One Fine Day". Pearls marked the end of King's career as a hitmaker and a performer, as no subsequent single release would reach the top 40.
Carole King in Washington, DC.
King moved to Atlantic Records and released with One to One (1982), and Speeding Time in 1983. In 1983 she played piano in "Chains and Things" on the B.B. King album Why I Sing The Blues. In 1985, she wrote and performed "Care-A-Lot", the theme song to The Care Bears Movie.
She returned to music in 1989, recording City Streets with guest Eric Clapton on two tracks, followed by Color of Your Dreams (1993), with a guest appearance by Slash of Guns N' Roses. In addition, her song "Now and Forever" was featured 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 the role of Mrs. Johnstone on Broadway in Blood Brothers. In 1996, she appeared in a production of Brighton Beach Memoirs in Ireland, which was directed by Peter Sheridan.
In 1991, she co-wrote with Mariah Carey the song "If It's Over", for Mariah's second album Emotions.
In 1996 she co-wrote the song "Wall Of Smiles / Torre De Marfil", with the late Colombian-American singer-songwriter Soraya for her 1997 album of the same title.
In 1997, King wrote and recorded backing vocals on the song "The Reason" for Celine Dion on her album "Let's Talk About Love". The pair performed a duet version of the song on the first ever VH1 Divas Live benefit concert. King also performed her classic hit, "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 the other divas, including Mariah Carey.
In 2001, Carole King appeared in a television ad for the Gap, with her daughter, Louise Goffin. On the commercial, King performed a new song "Love Makes the World" which became a title track for her latest studio album. It was released in autumn 2001 on her own label Rockingale which was distributed by Koch Records. The album includes several songs she initially wrote for other artists during the mid 1990s, and features guest vocalists and players including Celine Dion, Steven Tyler, Babyface and k.d. lang. Expanded edition of the album was issued six years later. It contains a bonus disc with five additional tracks, including remake version of the song "Where You Lead" (subtitled "I Will Follow") co-written by Toni Stern.
In 2001, King and Stern reunited and wrote a song "Sayonara Dance". It was recorded by Yuki, the former lead vocalist of the Japanese band Judy and Mary, on her first solo album Prismic came out in 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 the shows at the Greek Theater (Los Angeles) in Los Angeles and the Cape Cod Melody Tent (Hyannis, Massachusetts) were recorded and released as The Living Room Tour album in July 2005. The tour continued through 2005 and also made stops 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. At the same time, Japanese record labels Sony and Victor reissued most of King's albums, including the works during the late 1970s and previously unavailable on compact disc.
King can be heard on the track "Everyday People" from Reba McEntire's Reba: Duets CD, released September 18, 2007.
King recorded a duet of the Goffin/King composition "Time Don't Run Out On Me" with Anne Murray on Murray's album Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends. The song had previously been recorded by Murray for her 1984 album Heart Over Mind.
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 twice on behalf of NREPA: in 1994, and again in 2007.
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.
In 2008, King appeared on the March 18th episode of The Colbert Report, touching on her politics once more. She stated that she was supporting Hillary Clinton and mentioned that the choice had nothing to do with gender. She also expressed that she would have no issues if Barack Obama were to win the election. Before the show's conclusion, she returned to the stage to perform "I Feel the Earth Move."
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.
On April 9, 2009, Carole appeared as a guest on The One Show.
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?").
In addition to the numerous hit versions of her songs with Gerry Goffin and Tapestry Revisited, many other cover versions of King's work have appeared over the years. Most notably, "You've Got a Friend" was a smash hit for James Taylor in 1971 and a top 40 hit for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway that same year. 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." Barbra 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. 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. Jonathan Rayson recorded a new version of "Beautiful" in his 2006 release "Shiny And New". "Where You Lead" (lyrics by Toni Stern) became the title song of TV show Gilmore Girls.
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.
Awards and recognition
In 1987, Goffin and King were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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.