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From late-60s Laurel Canyon came a singer-songwriter who had honed her craft the hard way, creating hit after hit in the cramped confines of a Broadway publisher’s office. As a new decade dawned, Carole King emerged with an album of her own – and it was one that would resonate with a whole generation, as Neil Crossley explains…

In early 1969, copies of a demo recording by Brooklyn-raised songwriter Carole King began circulating among LA record producers and A&R executives.The recordings had been submitted by Lou Adler, producer, talent manager and head of the West Coast office of King’s publishing company, Aldon Music. Adler was convinced there was a future for King as a performer, as well as a songwriter, and his suspicions were reinforced when he started to make follow-up calls. “I couldn’t get the demos back,” he told Variety in 2012. “They were collecting them as part of their record collection. there’s something about the piano feel and the fact she was doing a lot of the parts and the vocals and the background vocals that just captivated all of these people.”

Two years later, on 10 February 1971, many of the songs from the demo appeared on King’s second album, Tapestry. Adler’s instincts had been proved correct. King’s prodigious talent as a songwriter, combined with her raw, uncontrived vocal delivery, resulted in an album of rare quality and depth.The album sold 25 million copies, spent 15 weeks at No. 1 in the Billboard charts, remained in the charts for 313 weeks and was voted No. 36 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. Almost five decades on, it remains a work of abiding artistic merit.

Few people listening to Tapestry would’ve made the connection between the barefoot, baggy-jumpered woman on the front cover of the album and the jobbing New York songwriter of a decade earlier.

But by the time Adler first peddled her songs around LA’s music-industry elite, King had already written numerous hits for other artists. Rolling Stone magazine once calculated that King’s chart entries from her days as a staff songwriter would run to five hours if they were played back to back. Her career from songwriting alone is so expansive that it dwarfs even the monster sales figures achieved by Tapestry.

Carole King’s chart entries from her days as a staff songwriter would run to five hours if they were played back to back

King during sessions for Tapestry at A&M Studios in LA in January 1971
Childhood sweethearts and husband-and-wife songwriting team King and Goffin pose for an early publicity shot
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