Carole Klein was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1958, during her student days, she met lyricist Gerry Goffin, whom she later married.
The duo (pictured below) made a name for themselves during the Brill Building era of pop, operating just around the corner from the building itself at 1650 Broadway. The pair became a virtual songwriting machine, with artists queuing up to record their tunes as they came off the production line.
During 1962 – at the tender age of 20 – King recorded a worldwide hit of her own in It Might As Well Rain Until September for the Dimension label.
Goffin and King effectively were Dimension Records. Even though it was songwriter-publisher Don Kirshner who launched the label in 1962, the first release – Little Eva‘s The Loco-motion – was penned by King and her partner and featured Carole on backing vocals. Hardly surprising, since Eva was Carole’s babysitter.
In 1968, King and second husband, bassist Charles Larkey, linked with guitarist Danny Korchmar to form The City – a short-lived project – and recorded the album Now That Everything’s Been Said.
For many though, the first real Carole King album was 1971’s Tapestry. If she had done nothing else apart from that one album, she would still retain superstar status.
That album alone sold around 20 million copies worldwide and spent an astonishing 302 weeks in the US chart (topping it for 15).
The post-Woodstock generation, largely unexposed to the thrill of Brill, suddenly discovered a new heroine via a superb LP without a single filler track.
Songs such as Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman had already been successfully recorded by The Shirelles and Aretha Franklin, respectively. But King’s stripped-down versions – particularly of the former, to which she brought an affecting sadness – are worthy reinterpretations.
King’s 1975 album Really Rosie has been called the best album ever written specifically for children, and few have argued.
A soundtrack pieced together for a kids’ TV special, the record stands as a genuine part of her body of work, filled with admirable songs, based around poems written by children’s book artist Maurice Sendak.
Thoroughbred (1976) was an album made during a time of turbulence: Carole and Charles Larkey had split and even her working relationship with Ode boss Lou Adler had soured.
Perhaps There’s A Space Between Us – a hope for reconciliation after a space of time – best echoed her thoughts at the time.
Despite every track on the album dealing with an aspect of love, the emotional button had quite clearly been switched off.
1983’s Speeding Time brought something old, something new; The ‘old’ being a reunion with producer Lou Adler, the ‘new’ being the introduction of a synthesizer as a lead instrument.
The album was also notable for the inclusion of four new Goffin-King songs, and for a time at least, Carole became less reclusive, did a few interviews and even moved out on her first nationwide tour in six years – though the proceeds were wasted on Gary Hart’s ill-fated presidential campaign.