James Taylor (b. March 12, 1948) is a highly acclaimed pop/soft rock singer-songwriter who became famous beginning in the early 1970s. Known for his gentle, soft-spoken style and introspective, self-reflective lyrics, he was one of the top acts of the singer-songwriter movement of that era, and his enduring popularity has, over the years, garnered him a huge, devoted following. Born in Boston and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in a musical family, Taylor learned to play the cello as a child and wrote his first song on guitar at age 14. During the early 1960s, he met then-future session guitarist Danny Kortchmar while vacationing with his family at Martha's Vineyard where they formed a duo and played at local coffeehouses. In his late teens, Taylor sank into a deep depression and checked himself into a psychiatric hospital for nine months, an experience that would later serve as an inspiration for his 1970 smash, "Fire And Rain." He then relocated to New York City where he co-founded his first band, The Flying Machine (not to be confused with the same-named group of "Smile A Little Smile For Me" fame). In 1967, Taylor moved to London where he launched his solo career and became the first non-British act to sign with Apple Records. The following year, he released his eponymous debut album which includes contributions from Paul McCartney (bass) and George Harrison (backing vocals) on the Taylor-penned ballad, "Carolina In My Mind."
James Taylor debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1969 with "Carolina In My Mind," a minor hit which recharted in late 1970. His fame took that year with "Fire And Rain," the lead single from his breakthrough second album, "Sweet Baby James" (1970). Other well known songs from that album include the title song, which is among his all-time most popular, and "Country Road," which became a Top 40 hit in early 1971. Taylor topped the charts later that year with the Carole King-penned "You've Got A Friend," and his long string of hits also included the self-penned "Long Ago And Far Away" (1971), "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" (1972), "Shower The People" (1976), "Your Smiling Face" (1977), and "Her Town Too" (1981, with J.D. Souther). In addition, he had top hits with covers of such oldies classics as Inez and Charlie Foxx's "Mockingbird" (1974, with then-wife Carly Simon), Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" (1975), Jimmy Jones' "Handy Man" (1977), Sam Cooke's "(What A) Wonderful World" (1978, with Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon), and The Drifters' "Up On The Roof" (1979). Taylor's hits continued through 2008 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and he has continued to release numerous albums to well into the 2010s, most of which have been certified gold or platinum. His best selling recording is his 1976 "Greatest Hits" compilation, which is one of very few albums by any performing artist to achieve diamond certification.
A five-time Grammy winner, James Taylor was inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000. His numerous other honors and accolades include an Emmy Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Kennedy Center Honors prize. He is one of the top-selling performing artists of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide to date.
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- For more info about James Taylor, his touring schedule, and his current projects, visit jamestaylor.com.
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- Country Road 1971
- Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight 1972
- Fire And Rain 1970
(This somber song about James Taylor's stay in a mental institution and the suicide of his friend Suzanne also became a hit in 1970 for both R.B. Greaves and Johnny Rivers. "Fire And Rain" is included in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.)
- How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) 1975
(This song was previously a hit for Marvin Gaye (1965) and Jr. Walker & the All Stars (1966).)
- You've Got A Friend 1971
(This song topped the charts and also became a hit for Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (1971).)
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