About James Taylor
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A six-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Taylor achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with the No. 3 single "Fire and Rain" and had his first No. 1 hit in 1971 with his recording of "You've Got a Friend", written by Carole King in the same year. His 1976 Greatest Hits album was certified Diamond and has sold 12 million US copies. Following his 1977 album JT, he has retained a large audience over the decades. Every album that he released from 1977 to 2007 sold over 1 million copies. He enjoyed a resurgence in chart performance during the late 1990s and 2000s, when he recorded some of his most-awarded work . He achieved his first number-one album in the US in 2015 with his recording Before This World.
Taylor is known for his covers, such as "How Sweet It Is " and "Handy Man", as well as originals such as "Sweet Baby James". He played the leading role in Monte Hellman's 1971 film Two-Lane Blacktop.
James Vernon Taylor was born at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where his father, Isaac M. Taylor, worked as a resident physician. His father came from a wealthy family from the South. Aside from having ancestry in Scotland, part of Taylor's roots are deep in Massachusetts Bay Colony and include Edmund Rice, one of the founders of Sudbury, Massachusetts. His mother, the former Gertrude Woodard , studied singing with Marie Sundelius at the New England Conservatory of Music and was an aspiring opera singer before the couple's marriage in 1946. James was the second of five children, the others being Alex , Kate , Livingston , and Hugh .
In 1951, his family moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when Isaac took a job as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. They built a house in the Morgan Creek area off the present Morgan Creek Road, which was sparsely populated. James would later say, "Chapel Hill, the Piedmont, the outlying hills, were tranquil, rural, beautiful, but quiet. Thinking of the red soil, the seasons, the way things smelled down there, I feel as though my experience of coming of age there was more a matter of landscape and climate than people." James attended a public primary school in Chapel Hill. Isaac's career prospered, but he was frequently away from home on military service at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, or as part of Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica in 1955 and 1956. Isaac Taylor later rose to become dean of the UNC School of Medicine from 1964 to 1971. Beginning in 1953, the Taylors spent summers on Martha's Vineyard.
James took cello lessons as a child in North Carolina, before learning the guitar in 1960. His guitar style evolved, influenced by hymns, carols, and the music of Woody Guthrie, and his technique derived from his bass clef-oriented cello training and from experimenting on his sister Kate's keyboards: "My style was a finger-picking style that was meant to be like a piano, as if my thumb were my left hand, and my first, second, and third fingers were my right hand." Spending summer holidays with his family on Martha's Vineyard, he met Danny Kortchmar, an aspiring teenage guitarist from Larchmont, New York. The two began listening to and playing blues and folk music together, and Kortchmar felt that Taylor's singing had a "natural sense of phrasing, every syllable beautifully in time. I knew James had that thing." Taylor wrote his first song on guitar at 14, and he continued to learn the instrument effortlessly. By the summer of 1963, he and Kortchmar were playing coffeehouses around the Vineyard, billed as "Jamie & Kootch".
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