Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Some Notes on the CNN Carole King-James Taylor Doc: How This All Started Because of Peter Asher


It was back in 2007 that Peter Asher, an old friend, told me he was staging a reunion of Carole King and James Taylor at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. I flew out to Los Angeles and went to the shows on November 27, 28, and 29, 2007. Somewhere in the Fox vault I have a column.I’ll put it up if I can find it.

This was to commemorate James and Carole’s shows in 1971, when Carole was basically introduced as a hit solo act on the heels of Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” album taking off. Of course, “Tapestry” came next, James had a hit with “You’ve Got a Friend,” and his “Mud Slide Slim” album was a hit.

You know, after this big hubbub in ’71, James and Carole went their separate ways. They did not collaborate again. James married Carly Simon, and they became a duo. Carole had five or six more hit albums through the mid to late 70s.

So bringing them back together in 2007 was unusual. It was all because of Peter Asher, don’t let anyone tell you anything otherwise. He filmed those 2007 shows, too. And they finally became a DVD in 2010 after much hassling with Carole. Then Carole and James went on tour together.

Here’s what Peter wrote me when I asked him about this last week:

Well, I never like to look like one of those people who try take credit for everything – but there is certainly some truth to what you are saying!  I mean, James was a Carole King fan as well – but I was one of those people who knew pretty much all her songs!  Gordon and I used to sing “Crying in the Rain” at every show we ever did. It was Danny Kortchmar who introduced me to Carole (when I made it out to LA) and I asked her to come over to my house to meet James, who was staying with me (I was his manager at that point of course). I suggested they sit down and play together (Carole confirms this specifically  – I have video!) and it worked even better than I was hoping.  So yes, I asked her whether she would play on the album we were about to make – and she assented.  When the record was a hit I asked each member of the little band who had played on it to join us for a week at the Troubadour and they all did so.”

I interviewed Carole circa 1993 when she was not much in vogue and a mediocre album coming out. She was not friendly. She brought her mother to the interview. She said nasty things about Neil Sedaka and didn’t want to talk about the Brill Building days. When the interview came out in the New York Daily News she fired her publicist, a very warm and lovely person. It was a mess.

I was shocked when Carole agreed to have a musical about her life on “Broadway.” But Doug McGrath wrote a fantastic book, and the songs were just there waiting to be used. It was a smash hit. Carole didn’t come to the opening, but she warmed up to it once the checks started coming in. Then she started making appearances at the Sondheim Theater. It was amusing, at least to me.

There’s no question that Carole is one of the top songwriters of our lives. Her songs all hold up. Her albums “Music,” “Rhymes and Reasons,” “Fantasy,” and “Nightingale” are all as good as “Tapestry.” All her Gerry Goffin songs are classics. She deserves all accolades.

James Taylor: I’m surprised no one’s written a book about him yet. He’s also, obviously, immensely talented and incredibly influential. I remember asking him on the beach in Martha’s Vineyard, summer of ’78, why he stopped working with Carole. He shrugged and said, “You know, Carole, she just goes her own way.”

I’m looking forward to Frank Marshall’s new documentary about these two

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News