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Claim to Fame
Voted the 84th Greatest Rock `n` Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone
Comedy, Traditional Bluegrass, Old-Timey, Traditional Country, Country Comedy, Bluegrass, Comedy/Spoken
Amiable/Good-Natured, Earthy, Joyous, Sweet
Singer/Songwriter, Adult Contemporary, Soft Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Psychedelic, Folk-Rock, AM Pop
Soothing, Poignant, Calm/Peaceful, Wistful, Warm, Relaxed, Literate, Laid-Back/Mellow, Refined/Mannered, Gentle, Earnest, Intimate, Sentimental, Reflective, Carefree
Acid Jazz, Electronic, Clubjazz, Club/Dance, Jazz, Soul Jazz
Soundtrack, Music Department, Actor/Actress
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Couple Profile Source
Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts
Full Name at Birth
James Vernon Taylor
Has Detailed Data (Music)
James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
Has Detailed Data (105)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
Music Genre (Text)
Folk rock, Rock, Pop, Soft Rock, Blues, Country
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Apple, Capitol, Emi, Warner Bros., Columbia, Sme, Hear Music
Carole King, Carly Simon, Peter Asher
Wiki Bio Text
Date of Birth 12 March 1948, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Birth Name James Vernon Taylor
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)
Mini Bio (1)
James Taylor was born on March 12, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA as James Vernon Taylor. He has been married to Caroline "Kim" Smedvig since February 18, 2001. They have two children. He was previously married to Kathryn Walker and Carly Simon.
Caroline "Kim" Smedvig (18 February 2001 - present) (2 children)
Kathryn Walker (14 December 1985 - 1995) (divorced)
Carly Simon (3 November 1972 - 1983) (divorced) (2 children)
Trade Mark (2)
Smooth and distinctive singing voice
Acoustic romantic ballads
Children with Carly Simon: Ben Taylor and Sally Taylor. Both are involved in music.
2000: Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
His late brother, Alex Taylor, and (still-living) sister Kate Taylor were both singer-songwriters; younger brother Livingston Taylor is still an active folk-pop-jazz performer.
3/30/04: Performed in Beverly Hills, CA, at a fund-raiser for John Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign.
Has twin sons, Henry and Rufus, with his 3rd wife, born via a surrogate mother.
2004: In the fall he participated in the Vote for Change concert tour organized to encourage the defeat of George W. Bush in the U.S. presidential election.
October 2004: Performed the Star Spangled Banner at Fenway Park in Boston for Game 2 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1978 Tony Award, for both music and lyrics, as one of several people sharing a nomination as Best Score for "Working."
He was voted the 84th Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.
Was once signed by The Beatles' Apple label in the late 1960s.
10/4/07: Grandchild Bodhi Taylor Bragonier born.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.
Ex-brother-in-law of Lucy Simon, Joanne Simon and Peter Simon.
He was awarded the 2010 National Medal of Arts for his contributions to American music. His voice and guitar playing are among the most recognized in popular music and his expansive list of songs has had a profound influence on songwriters and music lovers from all walks of life.
Is a staunch Democrat.
Performed in Beverly Hills, California, USA, at a fund-raiser for John Kerry's Democratic presidential campaign on 30 March 2004. [March 2004]
When Taylor was still an unknown singer-songwriter starting out in the sixties, British producer Peter Asher, then head of A&R at The Beatles's Apple Records, signed him and produced his first album in London titled, "James Taylor" (1968) featuring tracks "Something in the Way She Moves", "Rainy Day Man", "Carolina in My Mind", etc.
Longtime friend of legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Personal Quotes (81)
Music is like a huge release of tension.
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
I find it a lot healthier for me to be someplace where I can go outside in my bare feet.
Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not.
People should watch out for three things: avoid a major addiction, don't get so deeply into debt that it controls your life, and don't start a family before you're ready to settle down.
I don't read music. I don't write it. So I wander around on the guitar until something starts to present itself.
Certain things in life are more important than the usual crap that everyone strives for.
You have to choose whether to love yourself or not.
I believe musicians have a duty, a responsibility to reach out, to share your love or pain with others.
I don't take compliments very easily. I think most musicians suffer from low self-esteem to some extent.
I'm trying to look at my blessings and how amazingly well against all odds things have turned out for me.
We all have to face pain, and pain makes us grow.
It is the most delightful thing that ever happens to me, when I hear something coming out of my guitar and out of my mouth that wasn't there before.
I collect hats. That's what you do when you're bald.
What I've always done as an entertainer is try to come up with things that people will find interesting, or compelling, or humorous.
Sobering up was responsible for breaking up my marriage. That's what it couldn't stand.
To me, very much of what is artistic is people's very creative and inventive ways out of impossible situations.
Ireland, Italy and Brazil are the most musical places for me. They're extremely musical cultures and anything you pitch they basically catch.
That's the motivation of an artist - to seek attention of some kind.
Somehow it helps just to take something that's internal and externalize it, to see it in front of you.
I'm glad that I still have the ability to tour in Europe. I do love it.
I don't think anyone really says anything new.
I am myself for a living. I don't animate a character.
I don't play the kind of music that works in a football stadium.
It is a process of discovery. It's being quiet enough and undisturbed enough for a period of time so that the songs can begin to sort of peek out, and you begin to have emotional experiences in a musical way.
If you think my music is sentimental and self-absorbed, I agree with you.
I think it surprises a lot of people that I'm still around, you know, still - that I'm not pushing up daisies, as they say.
Fortunately, it doesn't seem to have made a lot of difference to my audience that I'm as bald as a billiard ball!
Bruce Springsteen's a rock star. Elton John is a rock star. I'm a folk musician. Honestly, I think that's true.
Songwriting is too mysterious and uncontrolled a process for me to direct it towards any one thing.
I sometimes wonder how many of these lifetime achievement awards you can accept before you have to do the decent thing and die.
I enjoy selling my music. I don't enjoy selling myself.
A concert is always like a feast day to me.
If you're an addict, it controls your life and your life becomes uncontrollable. It's boring and painful, filling your system with something that makes you stare at your shoes for six hours.
I think people are isolated because of the nature of human consciousness, and they like it when they feel the connection between themselves and someone else.
It's hard to find a way forward. When you're 18 it happens in huge chunks every day, but after 20 years, growth is much more costly.
It's a real wrenching thing to go from being a private person to being a public person, especially when you're being autobiographical.
I'm looking forward to being able to retire from being a public figure and being able to afford to be myself!
I was in chemical jail.
I tend to write out the first iteration of a lyric here and then go over here and make variations on it, on the page opposite.
I don't get into heavy political numbers because I don't find them lyrical.
I can take criticisms but not compliments.
I believe 100 percent in the power and importance of music.
I'm glad about what's happening to the music business. This last crop of people we had in the 90s, who are going away now, they didn't like music. They didn't trust musicians. They wanted something else from it.
Music is my living. I enjoy selling my music.
I started being a songwriter pretending I could do it, and it turned out I could.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Grammys because I don't see the music world as a competitive sport.
I had a very moral upbringing, and spiritual in a sort of not very specific way.
I don't read music. I don't write or read music.
I don't know much about God. But if everything does originate with God, then certainly songs do as well.
If you feel like singing along, don't.
If the gig's going really well, I'm incredibly happy on stage and really feel good about my life and things.
If I were to try to identify a turning point I'd say that was it - getting clean.
I was a functional addict.
I think that we're all totally isolated beings and always will be.
Performing is a profound experience, at least for me.
People have used my songs and guitar style to teach guitar for a long time.
Once you get that two-way energy thing going, everyone benefits hugely.
Knowing when to quit is probably a very important thing, but I just am not ready.
It's probably foolish to expect relationships to go on forever and to say that because something only lasts 10 years, it's a failure.
Things started to get out of control when I began reading that I was a superstar.
There'll come a writing phase where you have to defend the time, unplug the phone and put in the hours to get it done.
The best thing is when you hear somebody take your song and make something great of it.
The Beatles were a phenomenon, but they were also ordinary blokes like anyone else. I was lucky enough to see that side.
Television news is now entertainment, and the stories are being written by the people that have a special interest in them.
Photographers and reporters are mostly after me. They want to know what I read and what I'm like and I don't really know myself, so how can I tell them?
It's a real wrenching thing to go from being a private person to being a public person, especially when you're being autobiographical. But it's what everyone wants - to get everyone's attention, to have your music make a living for you, to be validated in that way.
I think that American music, for me, it's a synthesis of a lot of different things. But for me growing up in North Carolina, the stuff that I was listening to, the things that I was hearing, it was all about black music, about soul music.
I played the cello from when I was ten, and then I bought a guitar from the father of some friends of mine and played that for a while. And then when I was fourteen or so, I bought a guitar - a real nice one - in Durham, North Carolina, that I worked with up until I was about twenty-five.
Time will take your money, but money won't buy time.
When I cleaned up some 17 odd years ago, I felt terrible for about six months. The only thing that gave me any real relief was strenuous physical activity.
Though 'Fire and Rain' is very personal, for other people it resonates as a sort of commonly held experience... And that's what happens with me. I write things for personal reasons, and then in some cases it... can be a shared experience.
Performing is a profound experience, at least for me. It's not as if I sit down and play 'Fire and Rain' by myself, just to hear it again. But to offer it up... the energy that it somehow summons live takes me right back, and I do get a reconnection to the emotions.
I know there are people who don't like their audience or like the experience of being recognized or celebrated, but my audience has been very good - they don't bother me and when they do contact me it's usually on the nicest possible terms.
I don't reinvent myself in any major way. It seems to be a slow evolution. I go back and visit certain themes that I feel strongly about and resonate with me emotionally.
One of my earliest memories was me singing 'Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin' at the top of my voice when I was seven. I got totally carried away. My grandmother, Sarah, was in the next room. I didn't even realise she was there. I was terribly embarrassed.
I'm very unstable; there's no stability in a musician's life at all. You live on a bus or on the road hand to mouth and you don't know where your money's coming from.
I was a huge Beatles fan. We could talk about who I listened to growing up and what my sources were, but certainly the Beatles were a late, important resource for me, and I just took my guitar and a handful of songs, and I decided, well, I'll just go over and travel around Europe and see what comes of it.
I have a studio in a barn at home - we rehearse there, we film there and we record there. It's fun to hang out with my guys and see what comes out next.
Americans work a long away ahead of themselves because of the size of the place. To make any impact at all you have to promote yourself with live performances ages before a release.
When you write a song, it may come from a personal space, but it very seldom actually represents you. It comes out of a sort of mood of melancholy, somehow. It's almost theatrical.
James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is a Grammy Award winning American singer-songwriter and guitarist born in Boston, Massachusetts, and raised in Carrboro, North Carolina.
Taylor`s career began in the mid-1960s, but he found his audience in the early 1970s, singing sensitive and gentle songs. He was part of a wave of singer-songwriters of the time that also included Joni Mitchell, Tom Rush, Cat Stevens, Carole King, John Denver, Jim Croce, Don McLean, Gordon Lightfoot, and Jackson Browne, as well as Carly Simon, whom Taylor later married (and divorced).
His 1976 album Greatest Hits was certified diamond and has sold more than 11 million copies. He has retained a large audience well into the 1990s and early 2000s, when some of his best-selling and most-awarded albums were released.
Taylor grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where his father, Isaac M. Taylor, was the dean of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine from 1964 to 1971. His family spent summers on Martha`s Vineyard.
Taylor first learned to play the cello as a child in Chapel Hill, and switched to the guitar in 1960. His style on that instrument evolved from listening to hymns, carols, and Woody Guthrie. He attended Milton Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts, and summered with his family on Martha`s Vineyard, where he met Danny Kortchmar. The two began playing folk music together. After dropping out of school, he formed a band called The Corsayers with his brother, Alex. Later, he committed himself to McLean Hospital for depression, where he subsequently earned a high school diploma from the associated Arlington School. After graduating, he formed a band called the Flying Machine with Kortchmar and Joel O`Brien in New York City. The band was signed to Rainy Day Records and released one single, "Brighten Your Night with My Day" (B-side: "Night Owl"). The single was not a success. (A UK band with the same name emerged in 1969 with the hit song "Smile a Little Smile for Me".)
While living in New York City, Taylor became addicted to heroin. One night, after receiving a desperate phone call, his father drove to New York and rescued him. Taylor later wrote a song called "Jump Up Behind Me" that paid tribute to his father`s help during a time of desperate need. The song also reflects on Taylor`s memories of the long drive from New York City back to his home in Chapel Hill.
In 1968, Taylor moved to London. He was signed to Apple Records after sending a demo tape to Peter Asher (of Peter & Gordon) and released his debut album, James Taylor. Despite the Beatles connection, and the presence of Paul McCartney and George Harrison on one track, the album did not sell very well, and Taylor`s addiction worsened. Moving back to the United States, Taylor checked into the Austen Riggs Center to treat his drug problem. Riggs is a hospital in Western Massachusetts in the town of Stockbridge (near where he lives today). By 1969 he was well enough to perform live, and had a six-night stand at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles. On July 20, 1969 he performed at the Newport Folk Festival. Shortly thereafter he broke both hands in a motorcycle accident on Martha`s Vineyard and was forced to stop playing for several months.
Once recovered, Taylor signed to Warner Bros. Records and moved to California keeping 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 psychiatric institutions and the suicide of his friend, Suzanne Schnerr. The success of this single and the album piqued interest in Taylor`s first album, James Taylor, and propelled the album and the single, "Carolina In My Mind," back into the charts.
During the time Sweet Baby James was released, Taylor appeared with Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys in a Monte Hellman film, Two-Lane Blacktop. Also, 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, Taylor returned with One Man Dog and married fellow singer-songwriter Carly Simon on November 3. His next album, 1974`s Walking Man, was a disappointment but the following one, Gorilla, was a success partially because of a successful single 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 re-recordings of Apple Records-era material. It became a huge hit and remains Taylor`s best selling album. It was certified diamond, and to date has sold over 11 million copies.
Taylor signed with Columbia Records and released JT in 1977 winning another Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his cover version of "Handy Man."
After collaborating with Art Garfunkel and briefly working on Broadway, Taylor took a two-year break, reappearing in 1979 with the cover-studded album Flag, featuring a Top 40 version of Gerry Goffin and Carole King`s "Up on the Roof." Taylor also performed at the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden and appeared on the album and the film from the concert.
In 1981, James Taylor released the album Dad Loves His Work.
He was quoted in various interviews that he was thinking of retiring after fulfilling his last contractual obligation, the Rock in Rio in 1985. However, he was surprised by the reception of the audience on Saturday, January 12 (there were 250,000 people, the biggest attendance of the 10-day festival), when he performed right before George Benson. Two days later, they were scheduled to perform in the same order, but because Taylor`s extended performance had caused a delay to Benson`s on Saturday, Benson proposed that they switch the order. Taylor ended up the finale in this second performance. Buoyed by the audience`s reception, he decided to take back his life and his career. The song "Only a Dream in Rio" was written in tribute to that night, with verses like "I was there that very day and my heart came back alive." The album, That`s Why I`m Here, from which that song came, started a series of studio recordings that, while spaced further apart than his previous records, showed a more consistent level of quality and fewer covers.
In 1988, he released Never Die Young. He began touring regularly. especially on the summer amphitheater circuit. His later concerts feature songs from throughout his career and are marked by the musicianship of his band and backup singers. The 1993 two-disc (LIVE) album captures this well, with a highlight being Arnold McCuller`s descants in the codas of "Shower the People" and "I Will Follow." In 1995, Taylor performed the role of Lord in Randy Newman`s Faust.
Taylor`s 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 Grammy for Best Pop Album in 1998 for Hourglass.
In 2001 Taylor wed for the third time, marrying Caroline ("Kim") Smedvig. Part of their relationship was worked into the album October Road, on the song "On the 4th of July." The couple reside in the town of Washington, Massachusetts with their twin boys, Rufus and Henry, born in 2001 to a surrogate mother via in vitro fertilization.
Flanked by two greatest hit releases, October Road appeared in 2002 to a receptive audience. It featured a number of quiet instrumental accompaniments and passages. The album appeared in two versions, a single-disc version and a "limited edition" two-disc version which contained three extra songs including a duet with Mark Knopfler, "Sailing to Philadelphia," which also appeared on Knopfler`s Sailing to Philadelphia album. Also in 2002, Taylor teamed with bluegrass musician Alison Krauss in singing "The Boxer" at the Kennedy Center Honors Tribute to Paul Simon. They later recorded the Louvin Brothers duet, "How`s the World Treating You?" In 2004, after he chose not to renew his record contract with Columbia/Sony, he released James Taylor: A Christmas Album with distribution through Hallmark Cards.
Always visibly active in environmental and liberal causes, in October 2004 Taylor joined the "Vote for Change" tour playing a series of concerts in American swing states. These concerts were organized by MoveOn.org with the goal of mobilizing people to vote for John Kerry and against George W. Bush in that year`s Presidential campaign. Taylor`s appearances were joint performances with the Dixie Chicks.
Taylor performed the US National Anthem at Game 2 of the World Series in Boston on October 24, 2004.
In December 2004, Taylor appeared as himself in an episode of The West Wing entitled "A Change Is Gonna Come." He sang Sam Cooke`s classic "A Change Is Gonna Come" at an event honoring an artist played by Taylor`s wife Caroline. Taylor`s rendition was then released over the Internet.
He appeared on CMT`s Crossroads alongside the Dixie Chicks. In early 2006, Musicares honored Taylor with performances of his songs by an array of notable musicians. Before a performance by the Dixie Chicks, lead singer Natalie Maines acknowledged that he had always been one of their musical heroes, and had for them lived up to their once-imagined reputation of him.
In the fall of 2006, Taylor released a repackaged and slightly different version of his Hallmark Christmas album, now entitled James Taylor at Christmas, and distributed by Columbia/Sony.
In 2006, Taylor performed Randy Newman`s song "Our Town" for the Disney animated film Cars. The song was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for the best Original Song.
On January 1, 2007, Taylor headlined the inaugural concert at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York, honoring newly sworn in Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer.
It was announced in 2007 that Taylor`s next album, One Man Band was released on CD and DVD in November on Starbucks` Hear Music Label, where he joined with Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell.
On November 28–30, Taylor, accompanied by his original band and Carole King, headlined a series of six shows at The Troubadour. The appearances marked the 50th anniversary of the venue, where Taylor, King and many others, such as Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, and Elton John, began their music careers. Proceeds from the concert went to benefit the Natural Resources Defense Council, MusiCares, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, a member of America`s Second Harvest — The Nation`s Food Bank Network. Parts of the performance shown on CBS Sunday Morning in the December 23, 2007, broadcast showed Taylor alluding to his early drug problems by saying, "I played here a number of times in the 70s, allegedly..." Taylor has used versions of this joke on other occasions, and it appears as part of his One Man Band DVD and tour performances.
In December 2007 James Taylor at Christmas was nominated for a Grammy Award, but he did not win. In January 2008 Taylor recorded approximately 20 songs by others for a new album with a band including Luis Conte, Michael Landau, Lou Marini, Arnold McCuller, Jimmy Johnson, David Lasley, Walt Fowler, Andrea Zonn, Kate Markowitz, Steve Gadd and Larry Goldings. The resulting live-in-studio album, named Covers, was released in September 2008. Meanwhile, in summer 2008, Taylor and this band toured 34 North American cities with a tour entitled James Taylor and His Band of Legends.
During October 19-21, 2008, Taylor performed a series of free concerts in five North Carolina cities in support of Barack Obama`s presidential bid.
Taylor married singer Carly Simon on November 3, 1972, at her apartment in New York City. The only guests were the couple`s mothers and best man Jake Brackman. They had two children: Sarah Maria "Sally" Taylor, born January 7, 1974, and Benjamin Simon "Ben" Taylor, born January 22, 1977, both of whom are professional musicians and political activists. Simon and Taylor divorced in 1983.
On December 14, 1985, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, Taylor married actress Kathryn Walker (b. 1943), whom he credits with helping him recover from his substance addictions. They were divorced in 1996.
Taylor`s third marriage, to Caroline "Kim" Smedvig (b. 1953), took place in Boston on February 19, 2001. Smedvig is an executive with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor John Williams gave the bride away. The couple`s twin boys, Rufus Logan Taylor and Henry David Taylor, arrived on April 5 the same year. They were born via IVF to a surrogate mother who was also a close family friend.
Taylor`s four siblings—Alex, Livingston, Hugh, and Kate—have also been musicians with recorded albums. Livingston is still an active musician; Kate was active in the 1970s but did not record another album until 2003; Hugh operates a bed-and-breakfast with his wife, The Outermost Inn in Aquinnah on Martha`s Vineyard; and Alex died in 1993. Taylor`s children with Carly Simon—Ben and Sally—have also embarked on musical careers. On September 11th 2008, Billboard said that Taylor is writing for a new album, quite possibly his last.
Couple Profile Source