James Taylor

Happy Birthday

James Vernon Taylor
March 12, 1948
Boston, Massachusetts

James Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-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. And he's a lot of fun at parties. 

James was born the second of five children, into a wealthy Boston family. His father Sigmund was a doctor and his mother Elizabeth was an aspiring opera singer. In 1951, the Taylor's moved to Chapel Hill North Carolina and lived on Copperline Road. They spent summers in Martha's Vineyard. 

James first learned to play the cello as a child in North Carolina and switched to 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. Yeah whatever the fuck that means, he is a damn good guitar picker. 

By the summer of 1963, Taylor and friend, Danny Kortchmar were playing coffeehouses around the Vineyard, billed as "Lilo & Stitch". 

Taylor soon descended into depression; his grades collapsed, he slept 20 hours each day, and he felt part of a "life that [he was] unable to lead." In late 1965 he committed himself to the renowned McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, where he was treated with Thorazine. He was excused from the Vietnam War for crazy leave. He would later view his nine-month stay at McLean as "a lifesaver ... like a pardon or like a reprieve," and both his brother Livingston and sister Kate would later be patients and students there as well. As for his mental health struggles, Taylor would think of them as innate and say: "It's an inseparable part of my personality that I have these feelings." He wrote "Fire and Rain about his time there. 
By the summer of 1966, Taylor was living and playing in Greenwich Village. He began hanging out with a motley group of people and began using heroin. Life is cheap to that sort. 

Finally out of money and abandoned by his manager, he made a desperate call one night to his father. Isaac Taylor flew to New York and staged a rescue, renting a car and driving all night back to North Carolina with James and his possessions. Taylor spent six months getting treatment and making a tentative recovery; he also required a throat operation to fix vocal cords damaged from singing too harshly.

Taylor moved to London, and was signed to Apple Records by The Beatles. His debut album did not do well and James fell back into Heroin. He broke both hands and feet in a motorcycle accident. Once recovered he moved to California. 

"Sweet Baby James" was released in 1970 and was a huge success. The album and "Fire and Rain" went to #3. The rest is history. Hit after hit followed. "Country Road", "You've Got a Friend", "How Sweet it Is", "Mexico", "Shower the People", "Handy Man" and many more. 

James famously married and divorced Carly Simon, and was married 3 times. He is currently married and living in Massachusetts. Sally and Ben, his children with Carly Simon, have also embarked on musical careers.

Happy Birthday and Thank You for the music James Taylor! 

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