Our "Beautiful" "Natural Woman"
One of the most successful female songwriters of 20th century
Carole King was born Carole Klein to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York on February 9, 1942. She was a proficient pianist by the age of four, and a prolific songwriter by her early teens. As a teenager, she recorded demos, sang backup, helped arrange recording sessions, and wrote and recorded a few singles that went nowhere.
While a student at Queens College, she met her future writing partner and husband, Gerry Goffin. King’s 1960 single "Oh! Neil," which she recorded, was a riposte to her friend Neil Sedaka’s song "Oh! Carol." It was not a hit, but it impressed Don Kirshner, who signed the King/Goffin team to his Aldon Music Empire.
Their first success arrived in 1960, when the Shirelles recorded "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" This began a seven-year string of chart-toppers, including "Take Good Care Of My Baby" (Bobby Vee), "Up On the Roof" (The Drifters), "The Loco-Motion" (Little Eva), "One Fine Day" (The Chiffons), "Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence), "Don’t Bring Me Down" (The Animals), "I’m Into Something Good" (Herman’s Hermits), "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (The Monkees), and "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin).
During that period, King continued to attempt a recording career of her own, but only "It Might As Well Rain Until September" reached the Top 40 in 1962.
King and Goffin divorced in 1967, although they continued to occasionally musically collaborate over the years. King moved to Los Angeles, and formed the rock group the City. The City featured Danny Kortchmar on guitar and Charles Larkey (who became King’s second of four husbands) on bass. The group recorded only one album, Now That Everything’s Been Said.
In 1970, King released her first solo album, Writer. She followed that in 1971 with Tapestry, which included the songs "You’ve Got a Friend (also recorded by James Taylor), "It’s Too Late," "I Feel the Earth Move," "So Far Away," and her renditions of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." King won four Grammy Awards for Tapestry, the sales of which have been estimated at over 15 million copies worldwide.
King’s later albums include Music (1971), Rhymes and Reasons (1972), Fantasy (1973), Wrap Around Joy (which included the song "Jazzman" - 1974), Thoroughbred (a collaboration with Goffin which included the song "Only Love Is Real" - 1976), Simple Things (1977), Pearls (1980), Speeding Time (1983), City Streets (1989), and In Concert (1994). In 1975, King composed the music for the animated television special, Really Rosie. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song for "Now and Forever," from A League Of Their Own (1992).
In 1988 she starred in the off-Broadway production A Minor Incident, and in 1994 she portrayed Mrs. Johnstone on Broadway in Blood Brothers. Today King lives on a ranch in Idaho, and largely restricts her live appearances to environmental fundraisers.