James Vernon Taylor born March 12, is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Taylor achieved his breakthrough in with the No. Following his album, JT , he has retained a large audience over the decades. Every album that he released from to sold over 1 million copies.
He enjoyed a resurgence in chart performance during the late s and s, when he recorded some of his most-awarded work including Hourglass , October Road , and Covers. Taylor , worked as a resident physician. Thinking of the red soil, the seasons, the way things smelled down there, I feel as though my experience of coming of age there was more a matter of landscape and climate than people.
James first learned to play the cello as a child in North Carolina and switched to the guitar in Summering before then with his family on Martha's Vineyard , he met Danny Kortchmar , an aspiring teenage guitarist from Larchmont, New York. I knew James had that thing. Taylor faltered during his junior year at Milton, feeling uneasy in the high-pressure college prep environment despite good scholastic performance.
There, Taylor started applying to colleges  but soon descended into depression ; his grades collapsed, he slept 20 hours each day, and he felt part of a "life that [he was] unable to lead. Taylor associated with a motley group of people and began using heroin , to Kortchmar's dismay, and wrote the " Paint It Black "—influenced "Rainy Day Man" to depict his drug experience.
Taylor would later say of this New York period, "I learned a lot about music and too much about drugs. Isaac Taylor flew to New York and staged a rescue, renting a car and driving all night back to North Carolina with James and his possessions. Taylor decided to try being a solo act with a change of scenery. In late , funded by a small family inheritance, he moved to London, living in various areas: Notting Hill , Belgravia , and Chelsea.
McCartney remembers his first impression: 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. During the recording sessions, Taylor fell back into his drug habit by using heroin and methedrine.
It knocks me out. 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. Once he had recovered, Taylor moved to California, keeping Asher as his manager and record producer.
In December , he held the recording sessions for his second album there. Titled Sweet Baby James , and featuring the participation of Carole King , the album was released in February and was Taylor's critical and popular triumph, buoyed by the single " Fire and Rain ," a song about both Taylor's experiences attempting to break his drug habit by undergoing treatment in psychiatric institutions and the suicide of his friend, Suzanne Schnerr.
Both the album and the single reached 3 on the Billboard charts, with Sweet Baby James selling more than 1. Sweet Baby James was received at its time as a folk-rock masterpiece, an album that effectively showcased Taylor's talents to the mainstream public, marking a direction he would take in following years. It earned several Grammy Award nominations including one for Album of the Year. In January , sessions for Taylor's next album began. His career success so far and appeal to female fans of various ages piqued tremendous interest in him, prompting a March 1, , Time magazine cover story of him as "the face of new rock.
The album itself reached 2 on the album charts, which would be Taylor's highest position ever until the release of his album, Before This World , which went to 1, superseding Taylor Swift. The album went on to sell 2. November heralded the release of Taylor's fourth album, One Man Dog.
The album consisted of eighteen short pieces of music put together. Reception was generally lukewarm and, despite making the Top 10 of the Billboard Album Charts, its overall sales were disappointing. Almost simultaneously, Taylor married fellow singer-songwriter Carly Simon on November 3, in a small ceremony at her Murray Hill, Manhattan , apartment. Taylor spent most of enjoying his new life as a married man and did not return to the recording studio until January , when sessions for his fifth album began.
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 , copies in the United States. The title track failed to appear on the Top On the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, the track also reached the top, and the follow-up single, the feelgood "Mexico" also reached the Top 5 of that list.
A well-received album, Gorilla showcased Taylor's electric, lighter side that was evident on Walking Man. However, it was arguably a more consistent and fresher-sounding Taylor, with classics such as "Mexico", "Wandering" and "Angry Blues". It also featured a song about his daughter Sally, "Sarah Maria".
Gorilla was followed in by In the Pocket , Taylor's last studio album to be released under Warner Bros. The album found him with many colleagues and friends, including Art Garfunkel , David Crosby , Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Wonder who co-wrote a song with Taylor and contributed a harmonica solo. A melodic album, it was highlighted with the single " Shower the People ", an enduring classic that hit 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and almost hit the Top 20 of the Pop Charts.
However, the album was not well received, reaching 16 and being criticized, particularly by Rolling Stone. Still, In The Pocket went on to be certified gold. With the close of Taylor's contract with Warner, in November, the label released Greatest Hits , the album that comprised most of his best work between and With time, it became his best-selling album ever.
In Taylor signed with Columbia Records. Between March and April, he quickly recorded his first album for the label. Peter Herbst of Rolling Stone was particularly favorable to the album, of which he wrote in its August 11, issue, "JT is the least stiff and by far the most various album Taylor has done. That's not meant to criticize Taylor's earlier efforts But it's nice to hear him sounding so healthy.
The song also topped the Canadian charts. The success of the album propelled the release of two further singles; the up-tempo pop " Your Smiling Face ," an enduring live favorite, reached the American Top 20; however, " Honey Don't Leave L. After briefly working on Broadway , he took a one-year break, reappearing in the summer of , with the cover-studded Platinum album titled Flag , featuring a Top 30 version of Gerry Goffin 's and Carole King's " Up on the Roof.
Taylor also appeared on the No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden, where he made a memorable live performance of "Mockingbird" with his wife Carly. The concert appeared on both the No Nukes album and film.
Taylor told the BBC in And it was surreal to actually have contact with the guy 24 hours before he shot John. In March , Taylor released the album Dad Loves His Work whose themes concerned his relationship with his father, the course his ancestors had taken, and the effect that he and Simon had on each other. Simon announced her separation from Taylor in September saying, "Our needs are different; it seem[s] impossible to stay together" and their divorce finalized in Taylor had thoughts of retiring by the time he played the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro in January I was asked to go down to Rio de Janeiro to play in this festival down there.
We put the band together and went down and it was just an amazing response. I played to , people. They not only knew my music, they knew things about it and were interested in aspects of it that to that point had only interested me.
To have that kind of validation right about then was really what I needed. It helped get me back on track. John the Divine in New York. In the late s, he began touring regularly, especially on the summer amphitheater circuit. His later concerts feature songs spanning his career and are marked by the musicianship of his band and backup singers. After six years since his last studio album, in Taylor released Hourglass , an introspective album that gave him the best critical reviews in almost twenty years.
The album had much of its focus on Taylor's troubled past and family. Flanked by two greatest hit releases, Taylor's Platinum-certified October Road appeared in to a receptive audience. It featured a number of quiet instrumental accompaniments and passages. Overall, it found Taylor in a more peaceful frame of mind; rather than facing a crisis now, Taylor said in an interview that "I thought I'd passed the midpoint of my life when I was A Christmas Album with distribution through Hallmark Cards.
Always visibly active in environmental and liberal causes, in October , Taylor joined the Vote for Change tour playing a series of concerts in American swing states. These concerts were organized by MoveOn. Bush in that year's presidential campaign. Taylor's appearances were joint performances with the Dixie Chicks. In early , 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. The digital discrete 5. 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 , performed early in their music careers.
Parts of the performance shown on CBS Sunday Morning in the December 23, , 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. The resulting live-in-studio album, named Covers , was released in September The Covers sessions stretched to include "Oh What a Beautiful Morning", from the musical Oklahoma, a song that his grandmother had caught him singing over and over at the top of his lungs when he was seven years old.
An additional album, called Other Covers , came out in April , containing songs that were recorded during the same sessions as the original Covers but had not been put out to the full public yet. During October 19—21, , Taylor performed a series of free concerts in five North Carolina cities in support of Barack Obama 's presidential bid. The tour was a major commercial success, and in some locations found Taylor playing arenas instead of his usual theaters or amphitheaters.More...