James Taylor

From Sajun.org

James Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter, originally from Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where his father was a medical professor at the University of North Carolina. His family summered on Martha's Vineyard.

Taylor's career began in the mid-1960s, but he found his audience in the early 1970s, singing sensitive and gentle acoustic songs.

In spite of a significant base of critics and listeners who dismiss the early 1970s singer-songwriters (such as Taylor, Carole King, John Denver, Jackson Browne and Carly Simon), his Greatest Hits album from 1976 was certified diamond and has sold more than 11 million copies.

"The Best of James Taylor" album cover

Taylor's four siblings, Alex, Livingston, Hugh and Kate were also musicians with recorded albums. (Livingston is still an active musician.) Taylor's children with Carly Simon, Ben and Sally have also embarked on musical careers.

Early career

Taylor first learned the cello as a child, then switched to the guitar in 1960. While attending a prep school in Massachusetts, Taylor met Danny Kortchmar at Martha's Vineyard and the two began playing folk music together. After dropping out of school, James formed a band with his brother, Alex, then was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts by his parents due to depression. He believes that this action on his behalf saved his life. He earned a high school diploma while in the asylum, then left and formed a band called the Flying Machine with Kortchmar and Joel O'Brien. The band was signed to Rainy Day Records and released one single, "Brighten Your Night with My Day"/"Night Owl"; the song was not a success.

After the Flying Machine broke up, Taylor became addicted to heroin and moved to London, England. He was signed to Apple Records after sending a demo tape to Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon) and released his debut album, James Taylor. The album did not sell terribly well and Taylor's addiction worsened. His father flew to England to "rescue" him. Moving back to the United States, Taylor checked into a hospital in Massachusetts to try to kick the habit. By 1969, he was well enough to perform live in Los Angeles but then broke both hands in a motorcycle accident.

1970s success

Once recovered, Taylor signed to Warner Brothers Records and moved to California, keeping Peter Asher as his manager and record producer. His second album, Sweet Baby James, was a massive success, buoyed by the single "Fire and Rain", a song about his experience in an asylum and the suicide of a friend. The success of this single and the album, piqued interest in Taylor's first album, James Taylor, bringing it and the single "Carolina on My Mind" back onto the charts.

Taylor worked with Dennis Wilson (of the Beach Boys) on a film, Two-Lane Blacktop but this was unsuccessful at the time. 1971 saw the release of Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, another hit album. He won a Grammy Award for his version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend".

In 1972 (see 1972 in music) Taylor returned with One Man Dog and married Carly Simon, another singer-songwriter. His next album, 1974's Walking Man, was a disappointment but the following one, Gorilla, was a success, partially because of a successful single, a cover version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)". This was followed by In the Pocket in 1976, and then a Greatest Hits album that included some rerecordings of Apple Records-era material. It became a huge hit and remains Taylor's best-selling album.

Taylor and Simon had two children, Benjamin ("Ben") and Sarah ("Sally"). Simon was unhappy with Taylor's being out on the road traveling so much; he rejected an ultimatum from her that he spend more time with his children, and they eventually divorced in 1983.

Taylor signed to Columbia Records and released JT in 1977, winning another Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, for "Handy Man".

After collaborating with Art Garfunkel and briefly working on Broadway, Taylor took a two-year break, reappearing in 1979 with Flag. The album was a success, though there were no hit singles from it. Taylor also performed at the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden, then appeared on the album and film from the concert.

Later career

In the last two decades Taylor has toured regularly, and the pace of his studio recordings has slowed down. His two albums of original material from the 1990s were notably successful: his thirteenth album, New Moon Shine, went platinum in 1991, and he won the coveted Grammy for Best Pop Album in 1998 for Hourglass.

In 2000, he released his Greatest Hits Volume 2, followed in 2002 by October Road and 2003 by The Best of James Taylor.

Awards and recognition

Grammy Awards:

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2000



  • James Taylor: In Concert (1988)
  • Squibnocket (1993)
  • Live at the Beacon Theatre (1998)
  • Pull Over (2002)

External links

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