Musicheads Essential Artist: Carole King

Carole King performs on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1127 -- Musical guest Carole King performs with The Roots and with Lake Street Dive's Rachael Price (far left) on September 26, 2019. (Andrew Lipovsky/NBC)
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Musicheads Essential Artist: Carole King
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March is Women's History Month. To celebrate, each weekday this month we'll be spotlighting a different artist with special coverage on air and online. For Friday, March 20, we're shining a light on Carole King.

Carole King's prolific output as a songwriter marks her as one of the most accomplished musicians of the 20th century, with cowriting credits on 118 different songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100 over the years. The Everly Brothers, Bobby Vee, the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers, the Animals, Mariah Carey, and even Aretha Franklin can all thank Carole King for sharing her talents.

Carol Joan Klein was born on Feb. 9, 1942 in Manhattan, New York. At 16, she released her first single on ABC Paramount, and after getting pregnant at 17, she married then boyfriend and budding songwriter Gerry Goffin. It wasn't much longer before their song "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" was recorded by the Shirelles. It hit number one in 1961, when King was only 19 years old.

Carole King and Gerry Goffin's writing partnership was incredibly fruitful. By 1968 the couple had split ways, and Carole moved to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles, California. It was here that she began collaborating on songs with James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. She put out her first solo album in 1970, which hit number 84 on the Billboard 200, and in 1971 followed it up with the monstrously successful album Tapestry.

Tapestry held the number one spot for 15 weeks and stayed on the chart for almost six years. It included "You've Got a Friend," which hit number one — and a version by James Taylor, which came out later that year, also hit number one. The song won Taylor a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and King earned a Grammy as well, for Song of the Year.

King put out another nine records throughout the '70s — many of them finding continued success in sales and on charts — and continued a steady output of music into the '80s, releasing another four records, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 with ex-husband Gerry Goffin.

In 2014, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical opened on Broadway, telling the story of her early years and rise with Gerry Goffin as a songwriter. The soundtrack went on to win the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Few musicians have seen their work covered and revisited as much as Carole King's vast library.

Talking to Salon in 1999, King said, "I'm a songwriter first, have always been, and probably always will be."


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