King, Carole(originally, Klein, Carol)

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King, Carole(originally, Klein, Carol)

King, Carole(originally, Klein, Carol), prolific songwriter in the 1960s, and then one of the first and most popular female singer-songwriters of the 1970s; b. Brooklyn, N.Y., Feb. 9, 1942; songwriting partner Gerry Goffin b. Queens, N.Y., Feb. 11, 1939. Carole King began singing and playing piano at the age of four. She formed the female vocal group The Co-Sines at age 14 and met songwriter Gerry Goffin in 1958 while attending Queens Coll. Signed as a staff songwriter to Al Nevins and Don Kirshner’s Aldon Music at 17, she soon married Goffin and initiated their collaborative songwriting career at N.Y.’s Brill Building. She was first brought to the attention of the American record-buying public as the subject of Neil Sedaka’s 1959 hit “Oh! Carol.” King and Goffin scored their first songwriting hit, a top hit, in late 1960 with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” recorded by The Shirelles.

In the first half of the 1960s, Gerry Goffim and Carole King wrote a series of hits recorded by a variety of artists. These included “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “When My Little Girl Is Smiling,” and the smesh “Up on the Roof” for The Drifters; “Sharing You” and the top hit “Take Good Care of My Baby” for Bobby Vee; “Crying in the Rain” (with Howie Greenfield) for The Everly Brothers; “Her Royal Majesty” for James Darren; “Point of No Return” for Gene McDaniels; the smesh “One Fine Day” for The Chiffons; “Hey Girl” for Freddie Scott; and “I Can’t Stay Mad at You” for Skeeter Davis. In 1963, Goffin and King provided Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme with a number of hits,

beginning with the top hit “Go Away, Little Girl” by Lawrence. The team also contributed hits to two British groups during the mid-1960s: “I’m for to Something Good” for Herman’s Hermits in 1964 and “Don’t Bring Me Down” for The Animals in 1966. The duo also collaborated with Phil Spector on “Just Once in My Life” for The Righteous Brothers in 1965.

In 1962, Don Kirshner formed Dimension Records, as Gerry Goffin learned production and Carole King arranging. Dimension’s first release, “The Loco-Motion,” written by Goffin and King and recorded by Little Eva, became a top hit. Carole King’s version of “It Might as Well Rain until September,” originally written for Bobby Vee, was Dimension’s second hit, followed by Little Eva’s “Keep Your Hands off My Baby,” and two songs recorded by The Cookies, “Chains” and “Don’t Say Nothin’ (Bad about My Baby),” all written by Goffin and King.

During the mid-1960s, Goffin and King formed their own record label, Tomorrow, but singles by King and The Myddle Class failed to reach the charts. In 1967, they contributed hit songs to Kirshner’s Monkees (”Pleasant Valley Sunday”) and to Aretha Franklin (”A Natural Woman”). while providing The Byrds with “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born to Follow.” Gerry Goffin and Carole King were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Carole King subsequently broke up the songwriting team, divorcing Goffin in 1968 and marrying the bass player from The Myddle Class, Charles Larkey. King moved to L. A., where she formed The City with Larkey and guitarist Danny Kortchmar and recorded one album, Now That Everything’s Been Said, for Lou Adler’s Ode Records. Although the album failed to sell, it did include “Wasn’t Born to Follow” and Goffin and King’s “Hi-De-Ho,” a major hit for Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1970.

By 1970, Carole King had initiated a solo career, assisting James Taylor with Sweet Baby James and recording her debut solo album, Writer, with Larkey, Kortchmar, and Taylor. The album contained the Goffin-King songs “Up on the Roof,” Goin’ Back,” and “No Easy Way Down,” but sold only modestly. In 1971, King recorded the enormously successful Tapestry album. As James Taylor’s version of King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” was climbing the charts, so was her own double-sided top hit, “It’s Too Late””I Feel the Earth Move.” The album later yielded another major two-sided hit with “So Far Away””Smackwater Jack,” while including “Way Over Yonder” and two Goffin-King compositions, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “A Natural Woman.” This collection of mature, sophisticated songs (in contrast to the prior teen melodramas) appealed to virtually every sector of the record-buying public, remaining on the album charts for nearly six years and eventually selling more than 15 million copies.

Carole King’s next two albums, Carole King Music and Rhymes and Reasons, became best-sellers, each yielding a major hit single (”Sweet Seasons” and “Been to Canaan,” respectively), but somehow lacking Tapestry’s magic. Fantasy was somewhat more socially conscious, producing moderate hits with “Believe in Humanity” and “Corazón,” but Wrap around Joy, with most lyrics supplied by David Palmer, was decidedly jazz-oriented. The album’s smesh hit “Jazzman” featured an exciting saxophone solo by Tom Scott and was followed by “Nightingale.” After Really Rosie, an animated television show based on the children’s books of Maurice Sendak and using Sendak’s lyrics, King recorded Thoroughbred with the vocal assistance of Graham Nash, David Crosby, and James Taylor. The album included four Goffin-King songs and yielded a major hit with “Only Love Is Real.”

At the end of 1976, Carole King severed relations with Lou Adler’s Ode Records, switching to Capitol for the moderate hit “Hard Rock Café.” By then separated from Charles Larkey, she collaborated with Rick Evers and the band Navarro for touring and recording. King later married Evers and moved to Idaho but, on March 21, 1978, he died from a cocaine overdose in L. A. Subsequent albums for Capitol sold only modestly and only Pearls, a collection of her versions of the Goffin-King classics of the 1960s, yielded a major hit, with “One Fine Day.”

Settling into a less public lifestyle, Carole King recorded two albums for Atlantic and made a brief benefit tour for presidential hopeful Gary Hart in 1984. Working for protection of the wilderness since 1984, King provided the title song to The Care Bears Movie, acted in several movies and television shows, and starred in the play Getting Out. Following an album for Capitol in 1989, Carole King recorded Colour of Your Dreams for her own label in 1993, the year she performed at President Clinton’s inaugural ball and made her Broadway acting debut in the musical Blood Brothers. Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s daughter, Louise, started her modest recording career in the late 1970s.


Writer: Carole King (1970); Tapestry (1971); Carole King Music (1971); Rhymes and Reasons (1972); Fantasy (1973); Wrap around Joy (1974); Really Rosie (TV soundtrack; 1975); Thoroughbred (1976); Simple Things (1977); Welcome Home (1977); Touch the Sky (1979); Pearls—The Songs of Goffin and King (1980); One to One (1982); Speeding Time (1983); City Streets (1989); Colour of Your Dreams (1993); In Concert (1994).


M. S. Cohen, C. K:A Biography in Words and Pictures (N.Y., 1976).

—Brock Helander