Carole King (born February 9, 1942) is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. King and her former husband Gerry Goffin wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists during the 1960s, many of which have become standards. As a singer, King's album Tapestry topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks, in 1971, and remained on the charts for more than six years.
She was most successful as a performer in the first half of the 1970s, although she was a successful songwriter long before and long after. She had her first No. 1 hit as a songwriter in 1961, at age 18, with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", which she wrote with Gerry Goffin. In 1997, she co-wrote "The Reason" for Celine Dion.
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.
King has made 25 solo albums, the most successful being Tapestry. Her most recent non-compilation album is Live at the Troubadour, a collaboration with James Taylor, which reached #4 on the charts, in its first week, and has sold over 400,000 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. In 2009, Carole King was inducted into the "Hit Parade" Hall of Fame. She holds the record for the longest time for an album by a female to remain on the charts and the longest time for an album by a female to hold the #1 position, both for Tapestry.
Partnership with Gerry Goffin
Goffin and King formed a songwriting partnership for Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway in New York. Their partnership's first success was "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", recorded by The Shirelles. It topped the American charts in 1961, becoming the first No. 1 hit by a girl group. It was later recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Ben E. King, Dusty Springfield, Laura Branigan, Little Eva, Roberta Flack, The Four Seasons, Bryan Ferry, Dionne Warwick, and Melanie Safka as well as by King herself.
Goffin and King married in September 1960 and had two daughters, Louise Goffin and Sherry Goffin Kondor. Both are musicians.
In 1965, Goffin and King wrote a theme song for Sidney Sheldon's television series, I Dream of Jeannie, but an instrumental by Hugo Montenegro was used instead. Goffin and King's 1967 song, "Pleasant Valley Sunday", a #3 for The Monkees, was inspired by their move to suburban West Orange, New Jersey. Goffin and King also wrote "Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)" for Head, the Monkees' film. (King also co-wrote "As We Go Along" with Toni Stern for the same film soundtrack.)
Goffin and King divorced in 1968 but Carole consulted Goffin on music she was writing. King lost touch with Goffin because of his declining mental health and the effect it had on their children.
In 1967, King had a hit "Windy Day" with The Executives. In 1968, she was hired with Toni Stern to write for Strawberry Alarm Clock - "Lady of the Lake" and "Blues for a Young Girl Gone"—which appeared on the album, The World in a Seashell.
King sang backup vocals on the demo of Little Eva's "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 top 10 in the UK, later a hit in Canada for Gary and Dave), but after "He's a Bad Boy" made 94 in 1963, it took King eight years to reach the Hot 100 singles chart again as a performer.
As the '60s waned, King helped start Tomorrow Records, divorced Goffin and married Charles Larkey (of the Myddle Class), with whom she had two children (Molly and Levi). Moving to the West Coast, Larkey, King and Danny Kortchmar formed The City, which made one album, Now That Everything's Been Said, a commercial failure. King made Writer (1970), also a commercial failure.
King followed Writer in 1971 with Tapestry, featuring new folk-flavored compositions, as well as reinterpretations of two of her songs, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Tapestry was an instant success. With numerous hit singles – including a Billboard #1 with "It's Too Late" – Tapestry held the #1 spot for 15 consecutive weeks, remained on the charts for nearly six years, sold 10 million copies in the United States, and 25 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, become the first woman to win the award ("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. It would eventually be certified Diamond.
Tapestry was the top-selling solo album until 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.
Later life and work
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 as "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 1968 King formed The City, a music trio consisting of Charles Larkey, bass, Danny Kortchmar, guitar and vocals, and King on piano and vocals. The trio was assisted by Jim Gordon on drums.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. The album was re-released in 1999 as a CD, though despite a reappraisal by Kortchmar that the album sowed the seeds for Tapestry the CD was also deleted.
Awards and recognition
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.