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James Taylor Bio
James Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 12, 1948, as the second of five children into the family of Isaac M. Taylor and Marie Sundelius. His father came from a well-off Southern Scottish family, while is mother was an aspiring opera singer before the couple's marriage in 1946. When James was three years old, the family moved to the countryside of Carrboro, North Carolina. As a child, James learned to play the cello, however in 1960 his interest switched to playing the guitar.
In fall of 1961 James Taylor began to attend Milton Academy, a prep boarding school in Massachusetts where he met Danny Kortchmar, an aspiring teenage guitarist from New York. The two began playing blues and folk music together. Taylor wrote his first song at age 14, and continued to learn the instrument effortlessly. By the summer of 1963, he and Kortchmar began to play at coffeehouses and became known as "Jamie & Kootch". During James' junior year at Milton, he began to feel homesick in the environment and decided to transfer home to Chapel Hill High School. There he joined his brother's band called The Corsayers , as the electric guitarist. James left the band in his senior year however, when he returned to Milton to complete his high school career.
Soon after his return to Milton prep school, James Taylor descended into depression. In late 1965, during his senior year, he entered himself to the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, where he was treated for depression. James earned a high school diploma in 1966 from the hospital's associated Arlington School. He would later view his nine-month stay at McLean as "a lifesaver ... like a pardon or like a reprieve." Taylor checked himself out of McLean and moved to New York City to form a band with Kortchmar. They recruited Joel O'Brien to play drums and Zachary Wiesner to play bass, and called themselves The Flying Machine. James Taylor used his stay at McLean Hospital as an inspiration for writing songs such as "Knocking 'Round the Zoo", "Don't Talk Now", and "The Blues Is Just a Bad Dream"; which were all played by the band. By summer 1966, the band was performing regularly at the high-visibility Night Owl Cafe in Greenwich Village alongside other well known acts. The group released a single, "Brighten Your Night with My Day" which received some radio airplay. However, shortly after the band broke up when Kortchmar began to highly disapprove of James Taylor's use of heroin.
Taylor decided to embark on a solo career. In late 1967, he moved to London where he began to record demos. Shortly after, James became acquainted with Peter Asher, an employee of The Beatles' newly-formed record label, Apple Records. Taylor became the first non-British act signed to Apple. Apple released his debut album, James Taylor, in the UK in December 1968. It was then release in the U.S. in February 1969. Although the album received good reviews, Taylor failed at promoting the album because of his hospitalization from his heroin addiction. However, while recovering, he continued to write songs and in October 1969, he signed a new deal with Warner Brother Records.
Once recovered, Taylor moved to California. In February 1970 he released a new album titled Sweet Baby James featuring the hit single "Fire and Rain", a song about Taylor's experience in psychiatric institutions and the suicide of his friend. Both the album and the single reached #3 in the Billboard charts, with Sweet Baby James selling more than 3 million copies in the United States alone. The album earned several Grammy Award nominations including one for Album of the Year, and was later listed at #103 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003. Baby James effectively showcased Taylor's talents to the mainstream public and marked the direction James would take in following years.
In April of 1971, James Taylor released his next album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon. The album gained much critical acclaim. It contained James' biggest Pop single in the U.S., a version of the Carole King standard "You've Got a Friend". In early 1972, Taylor received his first Grammy Award, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, for the song "You've Got a Friend". The album went on to sell 2½ million copies in the United States alone.
James Taylor's fourth album release came in November 1972 with, One Man Dog. It received generally unenthusiastic reviews and, despite making the Top 10 of the Billboard Album Charts, the overall sales were disappointing. The lead single "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" did however, peak at #18 on the Hot 100. Walking Man, James' next album, was released in June 1794. The album was a critical and commercial disaster, being his first album to miss the Top 5 since his contract with Warner. It received poor reviews and was a huge disappointment to his career. However, his artistic fortunes peaked again 1975 when the Gold album Gorilla reached #6 and provided one of his biggest hit singles, a cover version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is". On the Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, the track also reached the top, along with his follow-up single, "Mexico," which reached the Top 5 of that list. Gorilla showcased Taylor's electric, lighter side. Gorilla was then followed in 1976 by In the Pocket, Taylor's last studio album to be released under Warner Brother Records.
In 1977 Taylor signed with Columbia Records, when his contact with Warner Brothers was finished. He quickly recorded his first album for the label titled, JT, released that June. This album gave James Taylor his best reviews since Sweet Baby James, and earned a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year in 1978. JT reached #4 in the Billboard charts, selling more than 3 million copies in the United States alone. The album's Triple Platinum status ties it with Sweet Baby James as Taylor's all-time biggest selling studio album. His hit single, "Handy Man", which hit #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, also earned Taylor a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
For the next six years James Taylor was going through several personal issues and did not release any more albums. However, in 1997, Taylor released Hourglass, a reflective album on his troubled past and family, that gave him the best critical reviews in almost twenty years. "Jump Up Behind Me" paid a tribute to his father's rescue of him after The Flying Machine days. "Enough To Be On Your Way" was inspired by the alcohol-related death of his brother Alex. Critics embraced the dark themes on the album, leading the album to reach #9 on the Billboard 200 (Taylor's first Top 10 album in sixteen years). The album also gave Taylor his first Grammy since JT, with Best Pop Album in 1998. As a five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2004, after he chose not to renew his record contract with Columbia, James Taylor released James Taylor: A Christmas Album with distribution through Hallmark Cards.
In early 2006, MusiCares honored Taylor with performances of his songs by an array of notable musicians. Also in 2006, Taylor performed Randy Newman's song "Our Town" for the Disney animated film Cars. The song was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for the best Original Song. Taylor's next album, One Man Band was released on CD and DVD in November 2007 on Starbucks' Hear Music Label. Taylor went on a three-year tour through the United States and Europe, featuring some of Taylor's most beloved songs. The digital surround sound mix of One Man Band won a TEC Award for best surround sound recording in 2008. During October of 2008, Taylor performed a series of free concerts in five North Carolina cities in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
In March 2010 James Taylor began the Troubadour Reunion Tour. They played shows in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and North America. The tour was a major commercial success. James Taylor is still currently on his tour in North America and InSeats.com provides tickets for all of James Taylor's shows.
James Taylor Ticket Information
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