Thursday, March 10, 2011

Top 10 Facts About James Taylor

  1. James Taylor was born March 12th, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the 2nd eldest of five children, three brothers and a sister. He was raised in Carrboro, North Carolina.

  1. His mother was a classically trained soprano and his father was a doctor and dean of the medical school UNC, Chapel Hill.

  1. He is part of one of the most famous and successful musical families in America. All of his siblings Alex, Kate, Livingston and Hugh possessed musical talent and have recorded albums.

  1. Livingston Taylor is the only one who is still active in the musical profession besides James; he is also a professor at the Berklee College of Music. I correct myself, Kate returned (view her website) to the music scene after raising her daughters in 2003. There are 10 separate interviews with Livingston on YouTube as he discusses growing up Taylor. I found the one about his deceased brother Alex to be the most moving. Follow and click on #7 out of 10 also very interesting are his comments about the freedoms in the music industry and other digital advancements or are they disadvantages to the musician. Hugh and his wife run a bed and breakfast in Massachusetts.

  1. James was admitted into a mental hospital in Massachusetts at the age of 17 for severe depression. He discusses that and his addiction to heroin and how he was fortunate to survive on this link found at YouTube. He wrote many of his songs while he was institutionalized, including “Fire and Rain”. I have read that his brother Livingston and sister Kate also were patients at the hospital at one time.

  1. Taylor speaks of “Fire and Rain” in a 2005 NPR interview with Simon Scott explaining the song was written in three parts. The first part was indeed about Taylor's friend Suzanne, who died while Taylor was in London working on his first album after being signed to Apple Records. Friends at home concerned that it might distract Taylor from his big break, kept the tragic news from him, and he only found out six months later. The second part details Taylor's struggle to overcome drug addiction and depression. The third part deals with coming to grips with fame and fortune, looking back at the road that got him there. It includes a reference to James Taylor and The Flying Machine, a band he briefly worked with before his big break with Paul McCartney, Peter Asher, and Apple Records. I do not think that there is anyone on the planet that has lost some one can not relate to the lyrics “but I always thought that I’d see you again”. What powerful deep feeling words.

  1. Paul McCartney was instrumental in discovering James Taylor.  He first signed with Apple Records in London in 1968. He became the first non-British act to sign with Apple. McCartney and George Harrison guest on "Carolina in My Mind", whose lyric holy host of others standing around me made reference to the Beatles

  1. Sweet Baby James was written by James Taylor on his way North Carolina to meet his brother, Alex’s son named James for the first time.

  1. James Taylor has been married three times. His first marriage to singer-songwriter Carly Simon lasted for ten years and they had two children together, Sally and Ben who both have musical talents.  Ben resembles his father in looks and voice very much so in my opinions. You can view an interview with Ben praising both his parents. Taylor was married to Philadelphia native and actress Kathryn Walker from 1985-1995.  He is currently married to Kim Smedvig, the director of public relations and marketing for the Boston Pops Orchestra.  They began dating in 1995 and married in 2001 and have twin boys, Rufus and Henry, born in April 2001 to a surrogate mother via in vitro fertilization.

  1. James Taylor lived in a building one up from John Lennon during the time an assassin took Lennon’s life. James Taylor came across Mark Chapman one day before the shooting.  Listen to his retelling of that story. I had never heard that before.

James Taylor is an icon in the music industry.  His words and music along with his life struggles are an inspiration. Owning his music and seeing him in concert should be on every ones bucket list.  I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania a few years back.  He is a gracious and appreciative man to his audience and leaves you feeling you have just seen one of the best.

His life is just as interesting as his music.  Tomorrow I will list my favorite songs by James Taylor that have helped me along the road.


  1. Interesting story about Taylor having actually met Chapman the day before. I had never heard that either. Nice find. Nice post.

  2. Yes that was interesting. Check out the Livingston Taylor interviews on Youtube also. They are all interesting but I liked the one about their older brother and another about his assessment of making money with music in these times. He's also a music teacher. A friend of ours had him as a teacher and said he was tough but thorough.

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