Profile: Carole King

American singer and songwriter Carole King posing with flowers, circa 1975.
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Claims to fame:

  • One of the very first successful female songwriters of the rock era
  • One of the prolific "Brill Building" songwriters who, along with then-husband Gerry Goffin, penned hundreds of singles for '60s pop groups
  • Her 1971 album Tapestry ushered in the "singer-songwriter movement of the 70s
  • Tapestry also ushered in the era of the multiplatinum LP
  • Several of her solo hits have become modern pop standards, including "So Far Away," "You've Got A Friend," and "Beautiful"
  • Tapestry is one of the best-selling pop albums of all time, and was the best-selling album ever until Fleetwood Mac's Rumours overtook it in 1978


Carol Klein on February 9, 1942, Brooklyn, New York, NY


Singer-songwriter, Pop, Soft-rock


Piano, vocals

Early years:

Carol grew up in a late-Fifties Brooklyn that was the epicenter of the pop music world; a musical prodigy from age 4, she attended every Alan Freed show and, like seemingly most of her peers, formed a singing group while in high school (The Co-Sines). None of this brought fame, but while attending Queens College, she fell in love with fellow student Gerry Goffin, and convinced him they could be the next great songwriter team, like her idols Lieber and Stoller. With the help of her highschool friend Neil Sedaka, the two were soon part of producer Don Kirshner's stable at Aldon Music in the famous Brill Building.


The duo hit almost immediately with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" a Shirelles smash that kicked off the girl-group craze. Scores of hits followed; by 1967 the marriage was souring, however, and Goffin and King parted ways as friends; too shy to carve out a solo career on stage, she followed (and some say, became involved with) songwriter James Taylor, playing piano for him on tour. After he encouraged her to take the solo spotlight at one of his New York gigs, she released the rather tentative album Writer, then, taking her cues from Taylor's introspective style, the massive hit Tapestry.

Later years:

Tapestry set the tone for the decade and made her a superstar overnight, becoming the biggest-selling album of all time. Carole ruled the pop charts, scoring six gold or platinum albums in five years, but by the late 70s, listeners were gravitating towards harder, more danceable fare. After attempting several comebacks with varying degrees of success, King semi-retired to the wilds of Idaho, becoming an active environmentalist and, in the '90s, engaging in a somewhat successful but short-lived acting career. In 2009, she announced that she would be embarking on a major US tour with old friend James Taylor.

#1 Carole King hits:

"It's Too Late" (1971)
"I Feel The Earth Move" (1971)

Adult Contemporary:
"It's Too Late" (1971)
"Been To Canaan" (1973)
"Nightingale" (1975)
"Only Love Is Real" (1976)

Top 10 Carole King hits:

"Sweet Seasons" (1972)
"Jazzman" (1974)
"Nightingale" (1975)

Adult Contemporary:
"So Far Away" (1971)
"You Light Up My Life" (1973)
"Jazzman" (1974)

#1 Carole King albums:

Tapestry (1971)
Music (1972)
Wrap Around Joy (1974)

Top 10 Carole King albums:

Rhymes & Reasons (1972)
Fantasy (1973)
Thoroughbred (1976)

Wrote or co-wrote:

"Will You Love Me Tomorrow," The Shirelles; "Take Good Care Of My Baby," Bobby Vee; "Up On The Roof," The Drifters; "The Loco-Motion," Little Eva; "Go Away Little Girl," Steve Lawrence; "Crying In The Rain," The Everly Brothers; "Chains," "Don't Say Nothing Bad (About My Baby)," The Cookies; "Hey Girl," Freddie Scott; "One Fine Day," The Chiffons; "I'm Into Something Good," Herman's Hermits; "Don't Bring Me Down," The Animals; "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," Aretha Franklin; "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Porpoise Song," "As We Go Along," The Monkees; "Hi-De-Ho," Blood, Sweat & Tears

Carole King awards and honors:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as songwriter) (1990)
  • Songwriters Hall of Fame (1987)
  • GRAMMY Awards (1971)

Other Carole King facts and trivia:

  • Neil Sedaka's 1959 hit "Oh! Carol" is dedicated to her; she wrote and recorded an answer song called "Oh! Neil"
  • King had a minor chart hit in 1962 with her own "It Might As Well Rain Until September," originally intended for Bobby Vee
  • The 1996 film Grace Of My Heart is based on a very Carole King-like character
  • Was once in a trio called The City with two ex-Fugs members, which featured the original version of "You've Got A Friend"
  • Wrote the soundtrack for the TV adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's book Really Rosie
  • Has appeared on several episodes of the WB network's Gilmore Girls, and sang the show's theme

Covered by:

Indigo Girls, James Taylor, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, Housemartins, McFly, Phil Upchurch, Dennis Brown, Faith Hill, Kim Carnes, Amy Grant, Barbra Streisand, Marillion, Denison Whitmer, Blessid Union Of Souls, Rod Stewart, Martika, Culture Beat, The Crusaders, Quincy Jones, Mark Eitzel, Dina Carroll, Gloria Estefan, Leah Androne, Mandy moore, Paul Gilbert, Eternal, Alice Babs, Richard Marx, Richard Marx, Celine Dion, Jonathan Rayson, The Carpenters

Carole King movie appearances:

"Bionic Boy" (1977), "Bionic Boy II" (1978), "Murphy's Romance" (1985), "Russkies" (1987), "Hider In The House" (1989)

Other important Carole King songs:

"It Might As Well Rain Until September," "Home Again," "Beautiful," "Way Over Yonder," "Where You Lead," "Smackwater Jack," "Tapestry," "Music," "Brother, Brother," "Pocket Money," "It's Going To Take Some Time," "Bitter With The Sweet," "Goodbye Don't Mean I'm Gone," "At This Time In My Life," "Ties That Bind," "Believe In Humanity," "Wrap Around Joy," "Really Rosie," "Alligators All Around," "There's A Space Between Us," "Hard Rock Cafe," "Carry Your Load"