Carole King Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Carole King, whose songwriting credits saturated the top the charts through the '60s and into the '70s, is now a two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honoree. She was inducted by Taylor Swift during a ceremony this evening held at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.
King was first inducted into the Rock Hall in 1990 for her songwriting achievements along with her former husband and collaborator, Gerry Goffin. Only two other women have ever been twice-inducted into the hall: King's fellow 2021 recipient Tina Turner and Stevie Nicks.
"Thank you for carrying the torch forward," King said as she accepted her award from presenter Taylor Swift, before thanking Goffin ("His lyrics nailed our deepest feelings") and other early collaborators like James Taylor.
“You know I’m kind of a hermit, to come out and see old friends and new, and all of you here tonight, to welcome all of the inductees, it’s unbelievable," King said. "I keep hearing it, so I guess I am going to have to own it, that today's female singers and songwriters stand on my shoulders."
She then talked about about Aretha Franklin was an inspiration to her before bringing out Jennifer Hudson, who plays Franklin in the recent biopic Respect and performed a show-stopping version of the King-penned, Franklin-sung "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." King then sat behind a piano and performed "You've Got a Friend," which became an audience sing-along after the inductee encouraged the audience to join her.
King's career began in 1958 when she began working as a staff songwriter at the famed Brill Building in her hometown of New York City. Working alongside Goffin, she co-wrote several dozen chart-topping songs, many of which went on to become musical standards, including "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," the pair's first No. 1 hit in 1960, originally performed by the Shirelles. Other hit tracks included "One Fine Day" for the Chiffons, "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" for Aretha Franklin.
By her own admission, King had not planned to break out with her own solo work. "I never set out to be a performer," she told Rolling Stone earlier this year. "I set out to be a songwriter. That’s all I ever wanted to be."
But in 1968, recently divorced from Goffin, King moved to Laurel Canyon and started the City, a music trio consisting of bassist and future husband Charles Larkey, guitarist Danny Kortchmar and herself on piano and vocals. They produced one LP, 1968's Now That Everything's Been Said.
In Los Angeles, King also met fellow songwriters Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and collaborated with them on occasion. King's debut solo album, 1970's Writer, featured Taylor on guitar and backing vocals. Writer peaked at No. 84 — a trial run for what was to come.
Tapestry, King's sophomore album released in 1971, was an immediate success. The record included two huge hit songs — "It's Too Late" and "I Feel the Earth Move," plus reinterpretations of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Taylor and Mitchell both appeared on the record. Tapestry spent 15 consecutive weeks at the No. 1 spot, remained on the charts for six years, earned King four Grammy Awards and is consistently cited as one of the most influential singer-songwriter albums of all time.
Several successful albums followed — 1972's Rhymes and Reasons, 1973's Fantasy and 1974's Wrap Around Joy. They were accomplishments that only just 10 years prior had seemed improbable to the young woman from Brooklyn. King's willingness to step out of her shell not only made her a household name, it also paved the way for aspiring female solo artists.
"When I was younger, I was kind of fearless," King told NPR in 2016. "I think it takes more courage to do things when you know more. I was completely naive, and I was like, why can't I do anything I want to do? You know, go for it. And you know what? I still feel like even in today's world, I feel that that's something that I want to say to people. My whole attitude was someone's going to get the thing or the opportunity that I was looking for. Why not me? And the other side of that is, if you don't try, you have no chance at all."
The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on Nov. 20 on HBO alongside a radio simulcast on SiriusXM Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Radio.