Carly Simon is the daughter of Richard L Simon, the co-founder of one of the largest American publishing companies, Simon & Schuster.
Born and raised in New York City, Simon enjoyed all the privileges of being related to one of the world’s leading literary tastemakers, including stints at private liberal-arts schools like Sarah Lawrence College.
She started out singing with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters and recorded some unreleased tracks for Bob Dylan‘s manager, Albert Grossman.
She signed to Elektra in 1971 and enjoyed a US-only hit in 1972 with That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be.
1972’s No Secrets album made Carly an international star thanks to the classic single You’re So Vain which contains one of the most enduring musical mysteries of all time.
Just who is so vain that he probably thinks the song is about him? Simon previously revealed that actor Warren Beatty inspired the second verse of the song (“Oh, you had me several years ago/When I was still naive”), but speculation abounds regarding the other man (or men) behind the ire. Either way, the track – with Mick Jagger on background vocals – is pure soft-rock fire.
Carly married singer/songwriter James Taylor in 1973 and the couple duetted on a 1974 hit single, Mockingbird (a carbon copy of the original by Inez and Charlie Foxx).
Hotcakes (1974) reached #3 and was certified gold, though it did not match the sales of No Secrets.
Her record sales declined further with Playing Possum (1975) and Another Passenger (1976), but in 1977 she had a surprise international hit with the million-selling single Nobody Does It Better, the theme to the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
Her career took another upward swing in 1978 with the hit album Boys in the Trees and released her last album for Elektra, Spy, in 1979. It sold poorly. She sojourned briefly with Warner Bros and Epic before settling at Arista in 1987.
Simon won a Grammy in 1990 for the Working Girl (1988) movie theme, Let The River Run, and issued two albums in the same year – My Romance (an uncomfortable collection of standards) and Have You Seen Me Lately? (a more considered and largely self-composed set).
She continued to write and record music for films and enjoyed success as the author of a number of children’s books, including Amy and The Dancing Bear, and The Boy Of The Bells.
Simon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, and underwent surgery that year and again in 1998.
During the 1990s, the American press reported an incident between Simon and Pretenders‘ vocalist Chrissie Hynde, at a Joni Mitchell concert at New York’s Fez Club.
Some reports stated that a drunk and disorderly Hynde grabbed Simon around the neck and punched her, although Simon attempted to put these rumours to rest on her official website in 2002.
Numerous witnesses, however, claim that Simon was, indeed, assaulted by Hynde.
In 2000, Simon released a new album, The Bedroom Tapes. Largely written and recorded at home in her bedroom (hence the title) while she was recuperating from her health problems of the previous couple of years, it was her first album of original songs in almost six years.
In 2002, Simon recorded a Christmas album, Christmas Is Almost Here, for Rhino Records, while she was in Los Angeles to lend support to her son Ben Taylor and his band.
That same year, Simon personally chose all of the songs for a new two-disc anthology album, simply titled Anthology, for Rhino Records.
Simon continued to record a series of LPs of ‘standards’ and in March 2008 it was announced that she had signed to Starbucks own music label. She released an album called This Kind of Love with them in the spring of 2008.
However, in October 2009, it was reported that Simon was suing Starbucks, saying they did not adequately promote the album (although the album did make the US Top 20 and sell nearly 150,000 copies).
In May 2010 Simon revealed she had been one of the several celebrities who fell victims to (eventually-imprisoned) financial advisor Kenneth Starr, whose ‘Ponzi scheme’ lured her into investing millions of dollars with him, which she lost.