Although Singer-songwriter James Taylor was born in Boston, Massachusetts, he grew up in Carrboro, North Carolina.
Taylor’s father was a faculty member and then Dean of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in nearby Chapel Hill.
Taylor’s childhood home was on Morgan Creek Road in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.
In 2003, a bridge over Morgan Creek was renamed the James Taylor Bridge in honor of the musician.
Many of Taylor’s experiences growing up in this neighborhood influenced the lyrics in many of his most popular songs.
One of Taylor’s best known songs, “Copperline”, tells the story of his return to his area of his childhood where it was just a ‘half a mile down to Morgan Creek’, and it speaks to how now it’s ‘all spec house and plywood’.
One his best know songs, “Carolina In My Mind”, is a “tribute song to his home state”.
James’s life of music began with lessons on the cello before later switching to the guitar (a great career move we think).
Taylor and his family spent summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
While attending Milton Academy, a prep boarding school in Massachusetts young James met another young guitarist, Danny Korchman.who would play a large part in his later musical career.
In the summer of 1963 they performed together as “Jamie and Kootch”.
James returned to North Carolina during his high school years where he was a member of his brother, Alex’s band, The Corsayers (known later as The Fabulous Corsairs). The band recorded a record in 1964 in Raleigh; the B side of which, “Cha Cha Blues,” was credited as a James Taylor composition. James returned to Massachusetts and Milton Academy for his senior year of high school.
Those familiar with James’ life know that he suffered from depression and struggled with mental illness during these early years.
After he graduated from high school he pursued his musical career moving to New York City where he and Kortchmar formed “The Flying Machine” a band, which recorded for Jay Gee Records.
When the band broke up his father came to New York to bring his drug addicted back home.
Things finally started to happen for James when, in 1967, James went to London after sending some demos of his songs to Peter Asher who was with the Beatles label, Apple Records.
Beatle Paul McCartney loved the demos signing Taylor to Apple as the only non-British artist.
Taylor’s debut album was recorder at London’s Trident Studio in 1968 while the Beatles were in the midst of recording their White Album.
George Harrison’s classic song, “Something” on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album was inspired one of Taylor’s songs, “Something in the Way She Moves”.
By the time that Taylor’s album on Apple was released there was turmoil and chaos in the Beatles and their Apple Corps operations.
Peter Asher continued as Taylor’s manager with both of them moving to Los Angeles. Asher secured a six night appearance for Taylor at the famous Troubadour leading a recording contract with Warner Brothers Records.
Taylor’s debut album for Warner Brothers, Sweet Baby James, was released in February, 1970 to critical acclaim and was a huge success.
His hit single, “Fire and Rain” charted in the top five on the singles chart and led to a Grammy nomination for “Album of the Year.”
The album, considered to be one of the best folk rock albums in history, established James Taylor as one of the first great singer songwriters of music history.
James continued his career with a number of successful albums as well as many hit singles such as “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Mockingbird” (with his then-wife Carly Simon), “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” “Shower the People,” “Handy Man” and “Her Town Too.”
James Taylor has earned over forty gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards throughout his career. Taylor’s third album, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon (1971), won a Grammy for Best Pop Male Vocal for the song “You’ve Got a Friend” in 1971. Joni Mitchell, Taylor’s girlfriend at the time and popular folk musician, helped record background vocals on the album.
Taylor married Carly Simon in 1972 before the release of One Man Dog (1972), which included background vocals from Simon and songwriter-songwriters Carol King and Linda Ronstadt.
But here in North Carolina his best loved song will, of course, always be “Carolina In My Mind”!