James Vernon Taylor was born on March 12, 1948 to well to do family in Boston, Massachusetts. While he did some recordings in the later 1960s, his first sucess came in the early 1970s.

   His career spans nearly 5 decades, and he has won (so far) five Grammy Awards. Many of his albums have gone platinum and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Dayton Ohio in 2000. In 2011 he received a National Medal of the Arts at a presentation in the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.


Childhood and Early Years

James Vernon Taylor was born on March 12, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts. When he was 3 years old, his family moved to North Carolina, where he spent his next 14 years with the family usually spending summers on Martha's Vineyard. James's mother had studied singing and James, like all of her children, was also talented in music. He first studied the cello and then later began to play the guitar.

Early Music Career

In 1965, James Taylor committed himself to the McLean Psychiatric Hospital located in Belmont, Massachusetts. While James was there he worked on his songwriting. He left the Harvard affliated facility in 1966 and helped form his first band - The Flying Machine. They broke up after some limited success and James moved to London where he signed up with the APPLE record label. Taylor's first album, titled simply JAMES TAYLOR was released in December of 1968 and was considered good by the critics of the time, but did not sell well. 

    James returned to the United States in 1969 and was checked into a hospital in New York, fighting a drug addition. He then went to another mental health facility in Massachusetts. After he left there he went to the 1969 Newport Folk Festival and played there. Getting more popularity he then left for California and recorded his first USA album with Warner Brothers.

Musical Stardom

James Taylor's career blasted off with his second album, Sweet Baby James (February 1970), which had included his best known song, the sad and sweet "Fire and Rain." The album and the song both reached No. 3 in their chart categories and James was on his way.

   On his next album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, Taylor had a No. 1 hit. The song "You've Got a Friend," written by Carole King was very popular, winning him his first Grammy for his performance of the song.

A few other album releases with less success followed then the album James Taylor's Greatest Hits was released in 1976 and was very popular from the first day. The album has now received diamond certification which indicates it has sold 10million plus copies. In the next year, 1977, James won his second Grammy. It was for his version of  "Handy Man" and also his first album for Columbia records. 

During the rest of the 20th century James Taylor continued  his work, and did more albums, live albums and worked on a musical which was on Broadway. His album Hourglass won the Grammy for Best Pop Album in 1997 and he won Grammys in 2001 and 2003 also.



Personal Life 

Taylor has been sober since 1984. After two failed marriages—to Carly Simon from 1972 to 1983, and to Kathryn Walker from 1985 to 1996—he wed Carolyn Smedvig in 2001.

Throughout his music career the proud liberal Taylor has offered his support to causes and folks he can believe in. He has done many concerts for politicians, including Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and George McGovern. James Taylor also is quick to get involved with benefit concerts, most recently the fundraiser for victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.


In 2000, Taylor was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the National Medal of the Arts in 2011. Three months after the National Medal of Arts ceremony, Taylor returned to the White House to perform for President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a state dinner held in the Rose Garden. James Taylor also was designated a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012. Taylor was also honored with a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, which consisted of four concert evenings presented by Carnegie Hall and featuring Taylor and personally selected musical guests. The first of these concerts was a gala benefit celebrating the 120th anniversary of Carnegie Hall. In November 2015, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


   In June 2015, James Taylor released "BEFORE THIS WORLD" - his first album of original material in 13 years.  It is remarkable to note that it was his first album to top the Billboard 200 chart. So it is likely safe to say that this "oldie" is not done yet and has little chance of being forgotten anytime soon. 

Category: Nick's Notes
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