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Taylor, James

James Taylor

Singer, songwriter, guitar player

Veteran performer James Taylor ushered in the singer/songwriter movement in the early 1970s and refined his style over the course of three decades, all the while maintaining the distinct musical craftsmanship that had led to his early success. Taylor appeared on the cover of Time in 1971 and was touted by the magazine as the originator of the singer/songwriter era. In 1997, 26 years later, Bob Kurson of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote of a live Taylor performance, "Even the most militant atheist … would have sworn that James Taylor's voice was a gift from God. … Taylor's voice resonates with a thousand personalities." Kurson wrote of Taylor's guitar playing, "There are guitarists—terrific guitarists—who would gleefully trade their firstborns to play an acoustic like Taylor." Blessed with a loyal fan base, Taylor's albums have routinely reached gold and platinum status.

Overcame Drugs and Depression

Taylor was born James Vernon Taylor on March 12, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts, as one of five children born to Dr. Isaac and Gertrude Taylor. His siblings included brothers Alex, Livingston, and Hugh, and sister Kate Taylor, all of whom would eventually become recording artists in their own right. Three years after he was born, the family moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where his father had accepted a position as Dean of the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill Medical School. Starting at the age of five Taylor attended Milton Academy, a prep school located outside of Boston. By the time Taylor was eight, he had already studied cello and had expressed a desire to play guitar.

His parents gave him a guitar in 1960, and by 1963—at the age of 15—he was playing folk songs at local venues on Martha's Vineyard with close friend Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar. He dropped out of Milton Academy during his junior year, and joined a band called The Fabulous Corsairs with his brother Alex and Zach Weisner. Weisner was replaced a few months later with Jerry Burnham. In 1965, at the age of 17, Taylor moved to New York City and soon afterwards, admitted himself for ten months to the McLean Psychiatric Hospital in Massachusetts to be treated for depression. His song "Knocking Round the Zoo" was inspired by his stay there.

In 1966 Taylor graduated from high school while still at the McLean Psychiatric Hospital, and then joined Kortchmar and O'Brien to form The Flying Machine. Although they created studio recordings at the time, their material was not released until 1971 under the name James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine. The band stayed together for only one year. Taylor began using heroin in 1968. He moved to London, recorded demos, and was introduced to Paul McCartney by producer Peter Asher. Taylor became the first outside artist signed to the Beatles' record label, Apple Records. However, his debut disc, James Taylor, was released in England with little success. Subsequently Taylor returned to the United States and admitted himself into the Austin Riggs psychiatric hospital in Maryland, where he was treated for heroin addiction and depression.

A year later in 1969, James Taylor was released in America. Taylor was signed to Warner Brothers Records and moved to California with Asher. The role of the former Peter & Gordon singer should not be overlooked. Asher—who also produced such acts as Cher, Linda Rondstadt, Diana Ross, and Randy Newman—knew how to frame Taylor's voice with sparse arrangements so the singer's warm, expressive vocals were never overshadowed. As a result, Taylor's early work still sounds as fresh and intimate as it did when it was first recorded.

For the Record …

Born James Vernon Taylor on March 12, 1948, in Boston, MA, son of Dr. Isaac (university dean) and Gertrude Taylor; married Carly Simon (a singer), 1972 (divorced, 1982); married Kathryn Walker, 1985, (divorced, 1996); married Kim Smedvig (a Boston Symphony executive), 2001; children: Ben and Sally (with Simon), Henry and Rufus (with Smedvig).

Studied cello as a child; took up the guitar at age 12; played folk songs at local venues on Martha's Vineyard with close friend Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar as a teen; joined band The Fabulous Corsairs with his brother Alex and Jerry Burnham; moved to New York City; formed band The Flying Machine with Kortchmar and O'Brien; released demo material as James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine, 1971; first outside artist signed to Apple Records; released James Taylor in U.K., 1968, and U.S, 1969; released Sweet Baby James, 1970; released single "Fire & Rain," 1970; featured on cover of Time, 1971; released single "Don't Let Me Be Lonely," 1972; with Carly Simon, released duet "Mockingbird," 1974; released Gorilla and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," 1975; has appeared on numerous network television programs, including Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, The Today Show, The Early Show, and the 1997 special James Taylor Live.

Awards: Grammy Awards: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, for "You've Got A Friend," 1972; Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, for "Handy Man," 1978; Best Children's Recording, for In Harmony Sesame Street, 1981; Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, for Hourglass, 1997; Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, for "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," 2001; (with Alison Krause) Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, for "How's the World Treating You," 2004; Lifetime Achievement Award at 1998 Billboard Music Awards; inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, 2000; inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2000; named MusiCares Person of the Year, 2005.

Addresses: Record company-Columbia/Sony, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022 Official label website - http://www.sonybmgmusic.com. Website—Official artist website: http://www.jamestaylor.com.

When Sweet Baby James was released in 1970 it rose to number one on the charts and became a bestseller for two years. The popular single "Fire & Rain" was released in 1970 as well, and Sweet Baby James was soon certified as platinum. Taylor performed with Joni Mitchell on a BBC radio show in 1970, and his career was permanently launched.

Singer/Songwriter Era

Taylor was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1971 as the originator of the burgeoning singer/songwriter movement. His popularity was such that the demos he cut with his former band were compiled and rush-released as James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine. The hit single "You've Got A Friend" was released in 1971, and Taylor toured 27 cities with his band, which included Carole King and Kootch's band, Jo Mama. Taylor won a Grammy Award in 1972 for "You've Got A Friend." The song also garnered a Grammy for Carole King for Song of the Year. Taylor released the single "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" in 1972. That same year he married singer Carly Simon, with whom he had a son, Ben, and a daughter, Sally.

Taylor and Simon released a duet remake of Inez and Charles Foxx's 1963 hit "Mockingbird" in 1974, which was featured on Simon's Hotcakes album and became a million seller. Turning increasingly towards the Adult Contemporary sound, Taylor released Gorilla and scored a smash hit in 1975 with his soothing rendition of Marvin Gaye's 1965 hit "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)." That year he played at Carnegie Hall with King and David Crosby. He released the single "Shower The People" in 1976 and toured with saxophonist David Sanborn. Later that year the platinum selling James Taylor's Greatest Hits was released, followed by James Taylor a year later, also reaching platinum status. In 1978 he received a Grammy Award for his tasteful remake of Jimmy Jones's 1960 hit "Handy Man," while Peter Asher won a Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work with Taylor. Taylor won another Grammy in 1981 for Best Children's Recording for In Harmony Sesame Street. In 1982 Taylor performed for more than a million fans in New York City's Central Park as part of a nuclear disarmament rally, which also included performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, and Linda Ronstadt. The concert was aired nationally on radio and filmed for In Our Own Hands.

Taylor and Simon divorced in 1982. Taylor's 1981 release, Dad Loves His Work, was later viewed as a response to an ultimatum delivered by Simon over the amount of time Taylor spent touring. Three years later he married Kathryn Walker at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. They divorced in 1996. Taylor performed in 1985 at the first rock festival held in Moscow, highlights of which were shown on the Showtime cable network.

Further Success and Personal Losses

Taylor's 1969 Apple debut was reissued in 1991 by EMI Records, followed by James Taylor Live in 1993, which sold more than a million copies. James Taylor Best Live was released in 1994, and a year later he received an honorary doctorate of music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he delivered the college's commencement speech. The year 1996 was a turbulent one for Taylor: he and Walker divorced, his father died at the age of 75, and producer and band member Don Grolnick died of cancer. Taylor's 1997 release, Hourglass, reflected his losses and an acute awareness of the brevity of life. It opened and peaked at number nine on the Billboard charts, with more than 70,000 copies sold in the first week of its release. Taylor performed at the VH1 Honors benefit concert in Los Angeles, and performed on the A&E network's Live By Request show.

An Icon of Soft Rock

Taylor has collaborated with a diverse group of musicians throughout his long career, including his ex-wife Simon, King, Mitchell, Karla Bonoff, Steve Winwood, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, sister Kate Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, George Jones, Brazilian musician Milton Nascimento, Neil Young, Crosby and Graham Nash, Ricky Skaggs, Jimmy Buffett, and the Roches and John Hall of Hall & Oates. Meanwhile, Taylor's grown children Ben and Sarah began professional music careers of their own, recording for the independent Iris and Blue Elbow labels respectively, and the two have occasionally traded background musical contributions with their illustrious parents.

Still a soft rock icon, Taylor's voice and style has remained intact and he still communicates with integrity and personal ease. His Academy Award-nominated version of Randy Newman's "Our Town," in the 2006 animated feature film Cars, rings with compassion and poignancy. With the exception of 2002's October Road, Taylor's later recordings have featured less original songwriting and more interpretations of other people's songs. Far from feeling creatively stifled, however, Taylor has seemed happy, especially in his third marriage to Boston Symphony executive Kim Smedvig; they have twin boys, Henry and Rufus, born to them through a surrogate mother. When not touring, the singer delights in his second time around as a father. "It's always the most compelling thing and it draws your focus right to the center of the culture, even at a time when you would think to be choosing your own path," he told SFGate.Com. "You are dragged kicking and screaming right into the minivan center. It really reattaches you to life in a way nothing else can."

Selected discography

Singles

"Fire And Rain," Warner, 1970.

"Country Road," Warner, 1971.

"You've Got a Friend," Warner, 1971.

"Long Ago and Far Away," Warner, 1971.

"Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," Warner, 1972.

(With Carly Simon) "Mockingbird," Elektra, 1974.

"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," Warner, 1975.

"Mexico," Warner, 1975.

"Shower the People," Warner 1976.

"Handy Man," Columbia, 1977.

"Your Smiling Face," Columbia, 1977.

(With Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle) "(What a) Wonderful World," Columbia, 1978.

(With Carly Simon) "Devoted to You," Elektra, 1978.

"Up On The Roof," Columbia, 1979.

(With J.D. Souther) "Her Town Too," Columbia, 1981.

"Everyday," Columbia, 1985.

"Only One," Columbia, 1986.

"That's Why I'm Here," Columbia, 1986.

"Time With You," Columbia, 1997.

"On the 4th of July," Columbia, 2002.

"Whenever You're Ready," Columbia, 2002.

"September Grass," Columbia, 2003.

Albums

James Taylor, Apple Records, 1968; reissued, EMI Records, 1991.

Sweet Baby James, Warner Brothers Records, 1970.

James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine, Euphoria Records, 1971; reissued, Gadfly Records, 1996.

Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon, Warner Brothers, 1971.

One Man Dog, Warner Brothers, 1972.

Walking Man, Warner Brothers, 1974.

Gorilla, Warner Brothers, 1975.

In The Pocket, Warner Brothers, 1976.

Greatest Hits, Warner Brothers, 1976.

James Taylor, CBS Records, 1977.

Flag, CBS Records, 1979.

Dad Loves His Work, CBS Records, 1981.

That's Why I'm Here, CBS Records, 1985.

Never Die Young, CBS Records, 1988.

New Moon Shine, Columbia Records, 1991.

James Taylor Live, Columbia Records, 1991.

James Taylor Best Live, Columbia Records, 1994.

Hourglass, Columbia/Sony Records, 1997.

Live at the Beacon Theatre, Columbia/Sony Records, 1998.

Greatest Hits, Volume 2, Columbia/Sony Records, 2000.

October Road, Columbia/Sony Records, 2002.

Everyday, Columbia/Legacy, 2003.

The Collection [box set], Columbia/Sony Records, 2004.

A Christmas Album, Hallmark, 2004.

James Taylor at Christmas, Columbia/Sony Records, 2006.

Video/DVD

In Concert Live, Sony, 1991.

Squibnocket, Sony Video, 1993; reissued, 2006.

Live at the Beacon Theatre, Sony, 1998.

Pull Over, Sony, 2002.

A MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute [live], Rhino, 2006.

James Taylor at Christmas, Columbia/Sony Records, 2006.

Sources

Books

Rees, Dafydd, and Luke Crampton, Vh-1 Music First—Rock Stars Encyclopedia, Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 1999.

White, Timothy, Long Ago and Far Away—James Taylor: His Life and His Times, Omnibus Press, 2001.

Periodicals

Acoustic Guitar, July/August 1992.

Boston Herald, June 4, 1998.

Chicago Sun-Times, July 5, 1997.

Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1997.

Frets, December 1987.

Guitar Extra, Spring 1992.

Guitar Player, May 1984.

Life, October 1985.

Musician, April 1988.

New York Times, February 3, 1988; April 8, 1981.

New York Times Magazine, February 21, 1971.

Newsweek, November 4, 1985.

Parade, July 12, 1981.

People, August 24, 1981; October 6, 1980.

Rolling Stone, December 10, 1981; June 11, 1981; July 10, 1980; September 6, 1979; February 18, 1971.

Saturday Review, September 12, 1970.

Stereo Review, January 1978.

Time, October 23, 1985; March 1, 1971.

Online

"James Taylor," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com. (March 3, 2007).

"James Taylor," Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com, (March 3, 2007).

"Life Stays Sweet for James Taylor," SFGate.com,http://www.sfgate.com (February 11, 2007).

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Taylor, James

James Taylor

Singer, songwriter

For the Record

Singer/Songwriter Era

Further Success and Personal Losses

Selected discography

Sources

Long-standing folk and pop singer/songwriter James Taylor ushered in the singer/songwriter movement in the early 1970s, and refined his style over the course of three decadesall the while maintaining the distinct musical craftsmanship that led to his early success. Taylor appeared on the cover of Time in 1971 and was touted by the magazine as the originator of the singer/songwriter era. In 1997, twenty-six years later, Bob Kurson of the Chicago Sun-Times wroie of a live Taylor performance, Even the most militant atheist...would have sworn that James Taylors voice was a gift from God... Taylors voice resonates with a thousand personalities. Kurson also wrote of Taylors guitar playing, There are guitariststerrific guitaristswho would gleefully trade their first-borns to play an acoustic like Taylor. Eleven of Taylors albums reached gold status and four reached platinum; he received a Life time Achievement Award at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards, and garnered three Grammy Awards over the course of his long and ever-evolving career.

Taylor was born James Vernon Taylor in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 12, 1948, as one of five children born to Dr. Isaac and Gertrude Taylor. His siblings included brothers Alex, Livingston, and Hugh, and sister Kate Taylor. Three years after he was born, the family moved to Chapel Hill, NC, where his father had accepted a position as Dean of the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill Medical School. Starting at the age of five, Taylor attended the Milton Academy, a prep school located outside of Boston. By the time Taylor was eight, he had already studied cello and expressed a desire to play guitar.

His parents gave him a guitar two years later in 1960, and by 1963at the age of 15he played folk songs at local venues on Marthas Vineyard with close friend Danny Kootch Kortchmar. He dropped out of the Milton Academy during his junior year and joined a band called The Fabulous Corsairs with his brother Alex and Zach Weisner. Weisner was replaced a few months later with Jerry Burnham. In 1965, at the age of 17, Taylor moved to New York City and soon afterwards, admitted himself for ten months to the McLean Psychiatric Hospital in MA to be treated for depression. His song Knocking Round the Zoo was inspired by his stay there. After ten months of hospitalization, he took a trip to Russia.

In 1966, Taylor graduated from high school in the McLean Psychiatric Hospital, and then Kortchmar and OBrien joined him to form The Flying Machine. Although they created studio recordings at the time, their material was not released until 1971 under the name James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine. The band stayed together for only one year, and Taylor began using heroin in 1968. He moved to London, recorded demos, and was

For the Record

Born James Vernon Taylor, March 12, 1948, in Boston, MA, on; son of Dr. Isaac (Den of University of North CarolingChapel Hill Medical School) and Gertrude Taylor; married singer Carly Simon in 1972 (divorced in 1982); married Kathryn Walker in 1985, (divorced in 1996); children: Ben and Sally (from marriage to Simon).

Studied cello as a child; took up the guitar at age 12; played folk songs at local venues on Marthas Vineyard with close friend Danny Kootch Kortchmar as a teen; joined a band called The Fabulous Corsairs with his brother Alex and Jerry Burnham; moved to New York City; formed band The Flying Machine with Kortchmar and OBrien; released material as James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine, 1971; first outside artist signed to Apple Records; released James Taylor in the U.K., 1968; James Taylor released in the U.S, 1969; reissued on EMI Records, 1991; released Sweet Baby James, 1970; released the single Fire & Rain, 1970; featured on the cover of Time, 1971; released the single Dont Let Me Be Lonely in 1972; released duet Mockingbird, 1974 with Simon; released Gorilla and How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), 1975; played at Carnegie Hall with guests Carole King and David Crosby; released Shower The People in 1976; released Greatest Hits, 1976; released James Taylor, 1977; released James Taylor Live, 1993; released James Taylor Best Live, 1994; released Hourglass, 1997, album peaked at number nine on Billboard charts, with more than 70,000 copies sold in the first week of its release; appeared on NBCs Saturday Night Live six from 1976-93, and on NBCs The Tonight Show six times between 1985-94.

Awards: Grammy Award Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Youve Got A Friend, 1972; Grammy Award, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for Handy Man, 1978; Grammy Award Best Childrens Recording, In Harmony Sesame Street, 1981;. Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1998 Billboard Music Awards.

Address: Record company Columbia/Sony, 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022; (212) 833-8000; or 2100 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404; (310) 449-2100.

introduced to Paul McCartney by producer Peter Asher. Taylor became the first outside artist signed to the Beatles record label, Apple Records.

He released James Taylorin England with little success, returned to the United States, and admitted himself into the Austin Riggs psychiatric hospital in Maryland, where he was treated for his heroin addiction and depression. A year later in 1969, James Taylor was released in America. Taylor signed to Warner Brothers Records and moved to California with Asher. When Sweet Baby James was released in 1970, it rose to number one on the charts and became a best seller for two years. The popular single Fire & Rain was released in 1970 as well, and Sweet Baby James was soon certified as platinum. Taylor performed with Joni Mitchell on a BBC radio show in 1970, and his career was permanently launched.

Singer/Songwriter Era

Taylor was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1971 as the originator of the burgeoning singer/songwriter movement, and James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine was released as a nod to his popularity. The hit single Youve Got A Friend was released in 1971, and Taylor toured 27 cities with his bandwhich included Carole Kingand Kootchs band, Jo Mama. Taylor won a Grammy Award in 1972 for Youve Got A Friend. The song also garnered a Grammy for Carole King for Song of the Year. Taylor released the single Dont Let Me Be Lonely in 1972, and married singer Carly Simon, with whom he had a son, Ben, and a daughter, Sally.

Taylor and Simon released the duet Mockingbird in 1974, which became a million seller, and was featured on Simons Hotcakes album. Taylor released Gorilla and the single How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) a year later in 1975, and played at Carnegie Hall with guests King and David Crosby. He released the single Shower The People in 1976 and toured with David Sanborn. Later that year the platinum selling James Taylors Greatest Hits was released followed by James Taylor a year later, which also went platinum. In 1978, he received a Grammy Award for the single Handy Man, and Peter Asher won a Grammy for Producerof the Year for his work with Taylor. Taylor won another Grammy in 1981 for Best Childrens Recording for his In Harmony Sesame Street album. In 1982, Taylor performed for more than a million fans in New York Citys Central Park as part of a nuclear disarmament rally, which also included performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, and Linda Ronstadt. The concert was aired nationally on radio and filmed for In Our Own Hands.

Taylor and Simon divorced in 1982, so Taylors 1981 release, Dad Loves His Work, was later viewed as a response to an ultimatum delivered by Simon over the amount of time Taylor spent touring. Three years later he married Kathryn Walker at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Taylor also performed in 1985 at the first rock festival held in Moscow, the highlights of which were shown on the Showtime cable network.

Further Success and Personal Losses

Taylors 1969 Apple debut was re-released in 1991 by EMI Records followed by James Taylor Live in 1993, which sold more than a million copies. James Taylor Best Live was released in 1994 and a year later he received an honorary doctorate of music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Taylor delivered the colleges commencement speech that year, as well. 1996 was a turbulent year for Taylor: he and Walker divorced, his father died at the age of 75, and producer and band member Don Grolnick died of cancer. Taylors next release in 1997, Hourglass, reflected his losses and an acute awareness of the brevity of life. It opened and peaked at number nine on the Billboard charts, with more than 70,000 copies sold in the first week of its release. Taylor performed at the VH1 Honors benefit concert in Los Angeles, and performed on the A&E networks Live By Request show.

1

Taylor collaborated with a diverse group of musicians throughout his long career, including his ex-wife Simon, King, Mitchell (California and In France They Kiss On Main Street), Karla Bonoff, Steve Winwood (Back In The High Life), Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel (Wonderful World), sister Kate Taylors Its In His Kiss, Linda Ronstadt (Gonna Work Out Fine), George Jones (Bartenders Blues, a cover of Taylors own song), Brazilian musician Milton Nascimento, Neil Young (vocals for three songs and banjo on Youngs Harvest Moon release), Crosby and Graham Nash, Ricky Skaggs (duet with Skaggs on New Star Shining), Jimmy Buffett, and John Hall of Hall & Oates. Taylor appeared on NBCs Saturday Night Live six times between 1976 and 1993, and on NBCs The To night Sorrow six times between 1985 and 1994. In 1998, it was clear that both of Taylors children with Carly Simon intended to follow in their parents musical footsteps, as both were preparing to release debut albums. Taylor received the 1998 Billboard Life time Achievement Award.

Selected discography

James Taylor, Apple Records, 1968, reissued, EMI Records, 1991.

Sweet Baby James, Warner Brothers Records, 1970.

James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine, Euphoria Records, 1971, reissued, Gadfly Records 1996.

Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon, Warner Brothers, 1971.

One Man Dog, Warner Brothers, 1972.

Walking Man, Warner Brothers, 1974.

Gorilla, Warner Brothers, 1975.

In The Pocket, Warner Brothers, 1976.

Greatest Hits, Warner Brothers, 1976.

James Taylor, CBS Records, 1977.

sDad Loves His Work, CBS Records, 1981.

Thats Why Im Here, CBS Records, 1985.

Never Die Young, CBS Records, 1988.

New Moon Shine, Columbia Records, 1991.

James Taylor Live, Columbia Records, 1993.

James Taylor Best Live, Columbia Records, 1994.

Hourglass, Columbia/Sony Records, 1997.

Sources

Acoustic guitar, July/August, 1992.

Boston Herald, June 4, 1998.

Chicago Sun-Times, July 5, 1997.

Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1997.

Frets, December 1987.

Guitar Extra, Spring 1992.

Guitar Player, May 1984.

Life, October 1985.

Musician, April 1988.

New York Times, February 3, 1988; April 8, 1981.

New York Times Magazine, February 21, 1971.

Newsweek, November 4, 1985.

Parade, July 12, 1981.

People, August 24, 1981; October 6, 1980.

Rolling Stone, December 10, 1981; June 11, 1981; July 10, 1980; September 6, 1979; February 18, 1971.

Saturday Review, September 12, 1970.

Stereo Review, January 1978.

Time, October 23, 1985; March 1, 1971.

Online

http://www.james-taylor.com/

http://www.sonymusic.com/artists/JamesTaylor/jt/index.html

B. Kimberly Taylor

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Taylor, James

JAMES TAYLOR

Born: James Vernon Taylor; Boston, Massachusetts, 12 March 1948

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Hourglass (1997)

Hit songs since 1990: "Shed a Little Light," "Copperline"


James Taylor's career is as vibrant today as in the late 1960s, when a generation of young people identified with his image as a guitar-playing troubadour whose music mirrored their feelings. Taylor's brand of tuneful, personal songs and his honey-smooth singing style were major influences in the introduction of folk music to a mainstream audience. Widely esteemed for his affecting and often memorable melodies and lyrics, Taylor was called "a national treasure" by President Bill Clinton for his contributions to American culture.


Battling Drugs and Mental Illness with Music

Taylor's interest in music began at an early age while growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He was born the second of five children into a prominent Boston family that moved south after Taylor's father, Dr. Isaac Taylor, was offered the deanship at the University of North Carolina medical school. In 1963 Taylor's parents sent him to Milton Academy, a prep school outside of Boston where he began writing songs and meeting other musicians, most notably Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, who later became a major contributor to and sideman on Taylor's recordings.

In 1964, his junior year, Taylor dropped out of high school to pursue music professionally. He moved to New York City and produced his first recordings with a short-lived band that he and Kortchmar formed called the Flying Machine. Although he recorded James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine in 1966, the album was not released until 1971, after he had achieved star status. This period of his life was also marked with hospital stays for serious depression. He eventually earned his high school diploma while seeking treatment during a ten-month stay at the McLean Psychiatric Hospital in Massachusetts in 1965.

Taylor fled the country for England in 1968 and shortly thereafter met Paul McCartney. He auditioned for the Beatles' record company, Apple Records, and, at McCartney's urging, Apple offered a recording contract. The resulting self-titled album, James Taylor (1968), was a success with critics, who lauded the agreeable melodies of songs like "Carolina in My Mind" and "Something in the Way She Moves." The album also features the eerily autobiographical songs "Something's Wrong," which deals with his heroin addiction, and "Knockin' Around the Zoo," a song about his stay in a mental institution. However, sales were slow, mostly because of the poorly managed record company's impending bankruptcy.

Taylor moved back to the United States, signed a record contract with Warner Bros. Records, and commenced a long string of musical triumphs with songs now firmly ensconced in American pop culture such as "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James," "Walking Man," and "Shower the People." In 1971 Time magazine featured Taylor on its cover and touted him as the architect of the singer/songwriter era. That same year Taylor won his first Grammy for Best Male Vocal performer with his cover of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend."

Taylor has had tremendous success performing not only his own songs but also those of other major pop composersfor example, his enormously popular rendition of Holland, Dozier, and Holland's "How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)," "Handyman" by Otis Blackwell and Jimmy Jones, and the Drifters' hit "Up on the Roof."

Throughout Taylor's rise to stardom, the singer was burdened by an addiction to heroin. His marriage in 1972 to singer Carly Simon, herself a major pop star, caught the imagination of the public. They scored a hit by combining talents on an Inez and Charlie Foxx pop standard "Mockingbird." Their stormy union ended in divorce ten years later, but they remained friends and occasionally perform benefits together. They have two children, both of whom are singer/songwriters.

Despite his longevity in the music business, Taylor has not suffered a noticeable creative lull throughout his career. He continued to tour and recorded well-received albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, such as One Man Dog (1972), Flag (1979), Dad Loves His Work (1985), and many others. He carried that success into the 1990s with his album New Moon Shine (1991). This album features a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. titled "Shed a Little Light," and an anti-Gulf War song, "Slap Leather." His remake of the traditional "The Water Is Wide" expresses the intimacies of love and mutual respect. Taylor also turned once again to Sam Cooke's material and added some fun with "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha."

Taylor resists writing his own story or assisting with biographies, claiming that the songs cover it adequately. (Two unauthorized biographies were published after 2000.) Hence he remains somewhat of a mystery to his fans, especially given his history of emotional trials and drug addiction. In the 1990s, however, he seemed to shake free of those demons.


Settling with Success

Three releases in the 1990s attempted to capture Taylor's much-revered live concert presence: Live (1993), the scaled-down Best Live (1994), and the video Live at the Beacon Theater (1998). Taylor's live shows attract a multi-generational fan base that delights in watching him perform. Tall and thin, Lincoln-like in aura, Taylor charms his audience with a self-effacing humor that is evident in his stories and patter between songs. His adroit folk styling on the guitar brings him tremendous praise among musicians.

The album Hourglass (1997) earned Taylor two Grammy Awards. It sold 70,000 copies in its first week and later went platinum. Hourglass features guest work from Stevie Wonder, who plays harmonica on "Little More Time with You;" Shawn Colvin, who sings on "Yellow and Rose;" and Sting, who sings backup on "Jump Up Behind Me." The album, which is a collection of songs on themes of hope and rebirth, features the talents of Yo-Yo Ma and Branford Marsalis as well.

Taylor has earned forty gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards for his immense body of recorded work. His original Greatest Hits (1976) album has sold more than 10 million copies. In 1998 Billboard magazine awarded Taylor with the prestigious Century Award. He was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2000 and was awarded a Grammy in 2002 for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," from Michael Brecker's Nearness of You collection; it was a song Taylor wrote in the 1970s.

In the early 2000s,Taylor rekindled an old relationship with Russ Titelman, who had produced his albums Gorilla (1975) and In the Pocket (1976), to create October Road (2002). Just as in his earlier trademark material, the songs on October Road are autobiographical and, according to Titelman, give wider play to the many textures of Taylor's guitar talents. Taylor's daughter Sally sings backup on "My Traveling Star" and "Buffalo Baby." October Road features accompaniment by legendary guitarist Ry Cooder and saxophonist Michael Brecker. Characteristically, Taylor adds a classic song into the mix, this time choosing to remake "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. By November 2002 October Road had sold more than 1 million copies. In November 2002 Taylor released a live DVD, Pull Over, which gives viewers a glimpse into the making of October Road, a complete concert of twenty-five songs, and a biography of the singer.

Having surmounted the burdens of depression and drug addiction, Taylor has endured as an artist, producing touching and graceful songs that have won the admiration of several generations of listeners.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

James Taylor (EMI, 1968); Sweet Baby James (Warner Bros., 1970); James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine (Gadfly, 1971); Sweet Baby James/Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (Warner Bros., 1971); One Man Dog (Warner Bros., 1972); Walking Man (Warner Bros., 1974); Gorilla (Warner Bros., 1975); In The Pocket (Warner Bros., 1976); Greatest Hits (Warner Bros., 1976); JT (Columbia, 1977); Flag (Columbia, 1979); Dad Loves His Work (Columbia, 1981); That's Why I'm Here (Columbia, 1988); New Moon Shine (Columbia, 1991); Live (Columbia, 1993); Best Live (Columbia, 1994); Hourglass (Columbia, 1997); Greatest Hits Volume 2 (Columbia, 2000); October Road (Columbia, 2002).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

I. Halperin, Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story (New York, 2000); T. White, James Taylor: Long Ago and Far Away (London, 2001).

donald lowe

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Taylor, James

James Taylor

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

James Taylors poetic soft-rock ballads have been an American favorite for more than fifteen years. Taylor has been richly represented on the pop charts since 1970, with hits such as Fire and Rain, Carolina in My Mind, Youve Got a Friend, and Handy Man, but his work transcends the banality of most pop music. As Burt Korall puts it in the Saturday Review, the songwriter-singer-guitarist brings to bear a substantial gift and admirable artfulness in the creation and performance of songs. Endearingly musical, he pairs memorable melodic lines with words that fit their contours tightly and well and document a singularity of vision. The songs are delightful and enriching. Taylors work is touching because it reveals intensely personal yet universal yearningsand does so with sweet, simple melodies that do not overshadow the sentiment. A fund of feelings, buoyantly lyrical and light on the one hand and darkly reflective on the other, mingle in his monologues, Korall writes. One cannot remain indifferent for long.

At the outset of his career, Taylor was called a new troubadour, an artist who was leading rock music away from the frenzied pitch it had established. Although Taylor feels that others preceded him in this endeavorBob Dylan, the Mamas and the Papashe was the first to reach mainstream superstardom with the sound. His tunes, as he calls them, are fusions of blues and jazz, folk (especially the ballad form), and even country music; though he has gone back toward classic rock in his more recent albums, most of his work is still acoustic. Korall claims that what emerges from the pastiche of Taylors influences is simultaneously literate and formal and relaxed and unpretentious. The thrust is rather direct, yet each one of Taylors stories of love, loneliness, anguish, and puzzlement is open to interpretation. He always leaves the listener that option. New York Times Magazine contributor Susan Braudy concludes simply that Taylor sounds like a kid sitting by himself on his bed singing his lonely interior monologues.

Most musicians sing about heartache, despair, and confusion, but few have experienced those feelings more intensely than James Taylor. The son of an affluent medical-school dean with a spacious home in North Carolina, Taylor grew up with every privilegeprivate schooling, summer vacations in Marthas Vineyard, plenty of money, and the affection of his family. The privileges were accompanied by expectations, however, and Taylor found himself enrolled in the strict Milton Academy, a boys school in Massachusetts. The lonely young man hated the rigors of the academy, and when he returned home he found himself alienated from his North Carolina cohorts as well. At seventeen he became severely depressed and voluntarily entered

For the Record

Full name James Vernon Taylor; born March 12, 1948, in Boston, Mass.; son of Isaac M. (a medical doctor and former dean of the University of North Carolina Medical School) and Gertrude (a singer, maiden name Woodard) Taylor; married Carly Simon (a singer), 1972 (divorced); children: Sarah, Benjamin. Education: Graduated from high school.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, 1968. Signed with Apple Records, 1968, produced first album, James Taylor, 1969; moved to Warner Brothers Records, 1970, had first hit album, Sweet Baby James, 1970, and first number one single, Fire and Rain, 1970; moved to Columbia Records, 1977. Appeared in the film Two Lane Blacktop, 1971.

Awards: Include nine gold albums, four platinum albums, and a 1978 Grammy Award.

Addresses: Office c/o Asher, 644 N. Doheny Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90069.

McLean Hospital, an exclusive private psychiatric institution. Taylor stayed at McLean for ten months, finishing his high-school studies and writing his first songs there. Then, in the summer of 1966, he left without formal discharge and joined some friends in New York City.

In New York Taylor and his friend Danny Kortchmar formed a band called the Flying Machine. The group found a regular gig at the Night Owl in Greenwich Village, but Taylor only earned about twelve dollars a night. Gradually Taylors personal problems resurfaced, and to make matters worse he became dependent on heroin. In January of 1968 Taylor fled New York for a new start in London. He produced an unpolished demonstration tape at a London studio and began to submit it to producers. He got an enthusiastic response from Peter Asher, a former performer who was scouting talent for Apple Records, a company founded by the Beatles. Both Asher and Paul McCartney liked Taylors sound, and they signed him to an Apple contract. Taylors first album, James Taylor, was released by Apple in 1969. The work, which included backup playing by McCartney and a number of songs Taylor wrote himself, was a critical success, but it failed to sell well. Discouragedand debilitated by his heroin useTaylor returned to the United States for another long stay in a mental institution.

By midsummer 1969 Taylors health was restored, and he began to tour. He broke his contract with Apple and signed with Warner Brothers in America, bringing Peter Asher along as his personal manager/producer. In 1970 Taylor released Sweet Baby James on the Warner label, a collection of simply orchestrated soft folk-rock songs that has since sold more than two million copies. From Sweet Baby James Taylor had his first number-one single, Fire and Rain, a poignant work that explores the hopelessness of mental illness and the sadness of suicide. Sweet Baby James and subsequent Taylor albums have revealed a signature style, according to Rick Mitz in Stereo Review, a style characterized by rich melodies and the careful melding of music and lyric. But the distinguishing trademark of [Taylors sound] is self-revelation through lyrics.

A Rolling Stone correspondent notes that Taylor achieved instant prominence and drew the praise of critics and fans for the confessional boldness of his dark folk narrativesinky, anguish-racked songs that would have made for unnerving listening had they not been structured around the bright resonances of his nasal North Carolina twang and the clipped, suspended chordings of his ringing acoustic guitar. He crooned about confinement in a mental institution, about nervous breakdowns and dungeon-deep depressions, and somehow he left such disquieting realities a little gentler on our minds. A Time magazine contributor elaborates: What [Taylor] has endured and sings about, with much restraint and dignity, are mainly head problems, those pains that a lavish quota of middle-class advantages do not seem to prevent, and may in fact exacerbate. Drugs, underachievement, the failure of will, alienation, the doorway to suicide, the struggle back to lifeJames Taylor has been there himself.

Life improved for Taylor throughout the 1970she married singer Carly Simon and had two childrenand many of his songs lost their anguished edge. He did not lack for hits, however. His tunes Country Road, Handy Man, How Sweet It Is, and Her Town Too made the billboard charts, as did the cheerful song he wrote for his daughter, Your Smiling Face. Gradually Taylors music began to take on a harder rock edge too, especially in concert. To quote Mitz, Taylor has survived and thrived in a business that eats up its musicians like popcorn.

Now in his forties, Taylor continues to cut albums and write his own music, but he admits that composing has become more difficult for him. I want to write great songs, he told Rolling Stone, but I dont want to suffer, you know. Im not going to wear a couple of shoe sizes too small just because I might write a better song. The suffering has not gone out of Taylors life completely, though. He still struggles with alcohol abuse and depression, combatting both by exercising and taking time to relax. His marriage to Carly Simon ended in divorce after several years of mutual bitterness, but News week correspondent Harry F. Waters suggests that such setbacks have only caused Taylor to grow up musically. The singer himself seems to agree. I spent a lot of time with a feeling of negative faith, he told Newsweek, an assumption that the world had a nasty surprise just around each corner. But Im comfortable now. I dont have any investment any longer in things turning out badly.

Selected discography

James Taylor, Apple, 1969.

Sweet Baby James, Warner Brothers, 1970.

James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine, Euphoria, 1971.

Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, Warner Brothers, 1971.

One Man Dog, Warner Brothers, 1972.

Walking Man, Warner Brothers, 1975.

Rainy Day Man, Trip, 1975.

Two Originals, Warner Brothers, 1975.

Gorilla, Warner Brothers, 1975.

In the Pocket, Warner Brothers, 1976.

The Best of James Taylor, Warner Brothers, 1976.

J. T., Columbia, 1977.

James Taylors Greatest Hits, Warner Brothers, 1977.

Flag, Columbia, 1979.

Dad Loves His Work, Columbia, 1980.

Thats Why Im Here, Columbia, 1985.

Never Die Young, Columbia, 1988.

Sources

Newsweek, February 8, 1971; November 4, 1985.

New Yorker, November 25, 1972.

New York Times Magazine, February 21, 1971.

People, October 6, 1980.

Rolling Stone, September 6, 1979; June 11, 1981.

Saturday Review, September 12, 1970.

Stereo Review, January, 1978.

Time, March 1, 1971.

Anne Janette Johnson

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