Carole King, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, gave Aretha Franklin reason to croon “A Natural Woman,” inspired Little Eva to tell a generation about the latest dance craze in “The Loco-Motion,” and let James Taylor warm our hearts with “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Singer-songwriter Carole King was born Carol Klein on February 9, 1942, in Brooklyn to a middle-class Jewish family. She took piano lessons from her mother, starting at age four. At Queens College she met future husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, whom she married in 1958.
King and Goffin were part of the “Brill Building Sound,” having written with other predominantly Jewish New York writers for Aldon Music, located around the corner from the famous Brill Building. After writing over a hundred hits, including “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” and “Take Good Care of My Baby,” and giving birth to Louise in 1960 and Sherry in 1963, Carole King divorced Goffin in 1968.
Yet the 1970s were an equally, if not more, successful time for King. As a solo artist, she produced the album Tapestry (Ode), which won four Grammy Awards in 1972. She was not able to accept the awards in person, having recently delivered daughter Molly in late 1971 with new husband Charles Larkey. The following years brought more gold records, notably Music and Wrap Around Joy (Ode), and a fourth child, Levi, in 1974.
King and Larkey divorced in 1976. She later married Rick Evers, who died in 1978, and then Rick Sorensen in 1982.
King still tours and records regularly. She and Gerry Goffin were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and both received the Recording Academy’s Trustees Award in 2004. King received the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1994 she appeared in the Broadway production of Blood Brothers and contributed to Life’s a Lesson, an album of Jewish liturgies. On March 19, 2004, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board added Tapestry to the national registry of sound recordings that are “culturally, historically… aesthetically significant.”
Cohen, Mitchell S. Carole King: A Biography in Words and Pictures. Edited by Greg Shaw (1976); Peeples, Stephen. “Carole King, a Natural Woman.” Liner notes to The Ode Collection, 1968-1976 (April 1994); Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll. Edited by Patricia Romanowski and Holly George-Warren; Who’s Who of American Women, 1995–1996. 19th ed. (1995).