5 Reasons Carole King Should Be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Carole King is already a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 1990, she was given the non-performer Ahmet Ertegun Award for her songwriting contributions, along wither her ex-husband and onetime creative partner Gerry Goffin.
But King's current nomination rests solely on her career as a recording artist, which started back in 1958 and resulted in a Top 25 single with 1962's "It Might as Well Rain Until September." This was all before 1971's Tapestry spent 15 weeks at No. 1, logged 318 weeks on the chart and made King one of the biggest artists of the era.
Frankly, it's sorta surprising she hasn't been inducted yet. Those songwriting contributions were rightly honored early in the Rock Hall's history, but there's way more to celebrate than just those timeless songs, as we outline below.
She Wrote Some of the Best Songs Ever
You can't talk about King's recording career without discussing her lead-up decade as one-half of one of the most successful songwriting teams of the '60s. ("The Loco-Motion" and "Up on the Roof" are just two of her and Gerry Goffin's classic songs.) And while these achievements have already been recognized by the Rock Hall, they're an integral part of her history as a recording artist, too. She reworked two of her greatest songs – "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," which the Shirelles took it to No. 1 in 1961, and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," written specifically for Aretha Franklin in 1967 – as spare piano ballads on the career-defining Tapestry. Her legacy started here.
One Word: Tapestry
King's recording career officially started in 1958 with "Right Girl," a single that went nowhere. Over the next few years she released a few more rarely heard songs before reaching No. 22 with "It Might as Well Rain Until September" in 1962, by which time she was an in-demand songwriter. She and Gerry Goffin divorced in 1968, the same year she recorded an album with the City. In 1970, she released her debut solo album, Writer, which barely dented the Top 100. The next year she released Tapestry, which shot to No. 1, as did its first single, the double A-side "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move." The album's dozen songs could easily make up a greatest-hits set. It's that great, and it's that timeless.
She Helped Launch the Singer-Songwriter Movement of the '70s
There were singer-songwriters before Carole King (see Bob Dylan). There were women singer-songwriters before Carole King (see Joni Mitchell, whose equally significant Blue was released the same year as Tapestry). But without Tapestry's monumental commercial success – it remains one of the best-selling albums of all time – it's hard to think the genre would have thrived the way it did over the next decade. King's open-diary and soft-rock approach inspired everyone from James Taylor (who played and sang on Tapestry and scored his only No. 1 single with his cover of the album's "You've Got a Friend" the same year) and Jackson Browne to Fleetwood Mac and Elton John.
She Opened Doors for Generations of Women Artists
King was one of the few women on staff at the Brill Building, the famous Manhattan office that housed songwriters since the '30s. She was just 18 when the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" became the first song by a Black girl group to hit No. 1 in January 1961. By the time she turned 30, she was one of the most popular artists in the world. Tapestry inspired women to pick up guitars, sit at pianos and write their own songs, and do so on their terms – a legacy that's carried over decades. You can hear traces of King songs like "It's Too Late" in the work of Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, Taylor Swift and countless others who've used her extensive catalog as their playbook.
Her Song Soundtracks One of the Most Moving Simpsons Episodes
In The Simpsons' Season Six episode "'Round Springfield," eight-year-old Lisa's musical hero Bleeding Gums Murphy, a saxophone player introduced in the long-running show's first season, is in the hospital. He and Lisa perform King's 1974 No. 2 hit "Jazzman" together before the bedridden Bleeding Gums lends Lisa his instrument for a school recital. When she returns to the hospital, Lisa learns her idol has died. It's a genuinely moving moment for an animated comedy series. At the end of the episode, Bleeding Gums appears in a cloud and duets with Lisa one last time as a soaring "Jazzman" plays over the credits. Just try keeping your eyes dry after this one.