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A haunting guy who could really play the guitarPaul McCartney
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Taylor achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with the No. 3 single “Fire and Rain” and had his first No. 1 hit in 1971 with his recording of “You’ve Got a Friend”, written by Carole King in the same year. His 1976 Greatest Hits album was certified Diamond and has sold 12 million US copies. Following his 1977 album, JT, he has retained a large audience over the decades. Every album that he released from 1977 to 2007 sold over 1 million copies. He enjoyed a resurgence in chart performance during the late 1990s and 2000s, when he recorded some of his most-awarded work (including Hourglass, October Road, and Covers). He achieved his first number-one album in the US in 2015 with his recording Before This World.
He is known for his covers, such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” and “Handy Man”, as well as originals such as “Sweet Baby James”. […]
[…] Taylor decided to try being a solo act with a change of scenery. In late 1967, funded by a small family inheritance, he moved to London, living in various areas: Notting Hill, Belgravia, and Chelsea. After recording some demos in Soho, his friend Kortchmar gave him his next big break. Kortchmar used his association with the King Bees (who once opened for Peter and Gordon), to connect Taylor to Peter Asher. Asher was A&R head for the Beatles’ newly formed label Apple Records. Taylor gave a demo tape of songs, including “Something in the Way She Moves,” to Asher, who then played the demo for Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison. McCartney remembers his first impression: “I just heard his voice and his guitar and I thought he was great … and he came and played live, so it was just like, ‘Wow, he’s great.'” Taylor became the first non-British act signed to Apple, and he credits Asher for “opening the door” to his singing career. Taylor said of Asher, who later became his manager, “I knew from the first time that we met that he was the right person to steer my career. He had this determination in his eye that I had never seen in anybody before.”
Living chaotically in various places with various women, Taylor wrote additional material, including “Carolina in My Mind“, and rehearsed with a new backing band. Taylor recorded what would become his first album from July to October 1968, at Trident Studios, at the same time the Beatles were recording The White Album. McCartney and an uncredited George Harrison guested on “Carolina in My Mind“, whose lyric “holy host of others standing around me” referred to the Beatles, and the title phrase of Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves” provided the lyrical starting point for Harrison’s classic “Something“. McCartney and Asher brought in arranger Richard Anthony Hewson to add both orchestrations to several of the songs and unusual “link” passages between them; they would receive a mixed reception, at best.
During the recording sessions, Taylor fell back into his drug habit by using heroin and methedrine. He underwent physeptone treatment in a British program, returned to New York and was hospitalized there, and then finally committed himself to the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which emphasized cultural and historical factors in trying to treat difficult psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile, Apple released his debut album, James Taylor, in December 1968 in the UK and February 1969 in the US. Critical reception was generally positive, including a complimentary review in Rolling Stone by Jon Landau, who said that “this album is the coolest breath of fresh air I’ve inhaled in a good long while. It knocks me out.” The record’s commercial potential suffered from Taylor’s inability to promote it because of his hospitalization, and it sold poorly; “Carolina in My Mind” was released as a single but failed to chart in the UK and only reached No. 118 on the U.S. charts.
In July 1969, Taylor headlined a six-night stand at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. On July 20, he performed at the Newport Folk Festival as the last act and was cheered by thousands of fans who stayed in the rain to hear him. Shortly thereafter, he broke both hands and both feet in a motorcycle accident on Martha’s Vineyard and was forced to stop playing for several months. However, while recovering, he continued to write songs and in October 1969 signed a new deal with Warner Bros. Records.
[…] Taylor spent most of 1973 enjoying his new life as a married man and did not return to the recording studio until January 1974, when sessions for his fifth album began. Walking Man was released in June and featured appearances of Paul and Linda McCartney and guitarist David Spinozza. The album was a critical and commercial disaster and was his first album to miss the Top 5 since his contract with Warner. It received poor reviews and sold only 300,000 copies in the United States. The title track failed to appear on the Top 100. […]
Last updated on December 21, 2019