James Taylor
James Taylor image source

5-time Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Songwriters Hall of Famer, James Taylor has had an illustrious long-running career. The multi-talented American musical genius shot into the limelight with his 1970 hit single “Fire and Rain” which peaked at No. 3 of the Billboard Hot 100 and also earned him his first Grammy nomination.

Taylor is also well-known for performing hit cover versions of popular songs including his first No. 1 hit “You’ve Got a Friend” (1970) as well as Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” (1974). 14 of the singer’s 30-plus albums have attained either platinum certification or higher and with over 100 million albums sold worldwide, James Taylor is undoubtedly one of most bankable artists of all times.

James Taylor’s Bio, Age

James Vernon Taylor was born on March 12, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts to Gertrude (née Woodard), a singer and Isaac M. Taylor, a physician in an affluent family with Scottish roots. He was raised alongside 4 siblings; Alex, Livingston, Hugh, and Kate. The family relocated to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when James was still a child.

Taylor gained a keen interest in music at an early age and after experimenting with different instruments, he eventually settled with the guitar. As a teenager, he formed a music duo “Jamie & Kootch” with fellow aspiring guitarist Danny Kortchmar. During his senior high school year at Milton Academy, James Taylor fell into depression and by 1965, he checked into McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. He eventually completed his high school diploma during his 9-month stay at the facility.

He relocated to New York where he formed the music band the “Flying Machine” alongside his old friend Kortchmar, bassist Zachary Wiesner and drummer Joel O’Brien. The band performed regularly and also recorded several songs, most of which were penned by Taylor. However, Taylor fell into heroin addiction followed by a series of poor career decisions, all of which culminated in the break up of the band. Taylor was able to get clean with the help of his father after which he returned to the music scene as a solo act in 1967.

James Taylor moved to London in late 1967 and with the help of his friend Danny Kortchmar, he got a record deal with Apple Records. While his music career continued to flourish, Taylor soon fell back into wild ways of women and drugs. His debut album James Taylor (1968) did not live up to its full commercial potentials because he was in rehab at the time of its release and was unable to promote it.

He got signed to Warner Bros. Records in October 1969 after which he relocated to California. In February 1970, the talented singer released the album Sweet Baby James alongside his first hit single “Fire and Rain” both of which made it to No. 3 on the Billboard charts. This marked the beginning of what has today become one of the most successful musical careers of his generation. James Taylor also received his first Grammy Award nominations in 1970 for the album Sweet Baby James and the hit single “Fire and Rain”.

James Taylor has trumped the success of his Sweet Baby James with several other follow-up releases. The talented singer has equally ridden himself of heroin addiction and has maintained a steady career for nearly 5 decades. In addition to immense commercial success and other accolades, James Taylor has received 5 Grammy Awards out of 18 nominations.

Wife, Children

James Taylor is currently married to his wife of nearly 2 decades Caroline Smedvig, a former Director of Public Relations at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The couple met in 1995 when Taylor performed at the Boston Pops Orchestra. They got married on February 18, 2001, in a ceremony held at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Boston. They have 2 children together. Barely 2 months after tying the knot, the couple welcomed their first offsprings. Their twin sons Rufus and Henry were born via a surrogate on April 5, 2001.

James Taylor
James Taylor and wife Caroline Smedvig

Prior to his current union, James Taylor had been married twice. He got married to fellow musician Carly Simon on November 3, 1972. They had 2 children together during their over 10 years union. They welcomed their first child, daughter Sarah Maria Taylor on January 7, 1974. They welcomed their second child, son Benjamin Simon Taylor on January 22, 1977. James Taylor and Carly Simon got divorced in 1983.

Taylor was also married to theatre, television and film actress, Kathryn Walker. The duo got married in New York on December 14, 1985, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Taylor credits his second wife Walker as having helped him get rid of his addiction to heroin. However, their union ended in a divorce in 1996.

James Taylor has 4 children and a steadily increasing number of grandchildren. His first 2 children Sally and Ben have towed their famous father’s path into showbiz. Sally Taylor is a singer-songwriter and social activist. Her brother, Ben is also a musician and an actor. Ben and Sally Taylor are frequent music collaborators. However, the younger Taylor kids, Rufus and Henry have so far shown no interest in music.

Other Facts About James Taylor

Every one of James Taylor’s siblings Alex, Livingston, Hugh, and Kate has been involved in music at one time in their lives. Each one of them has also recorded studio albums.

Taylor became the first non-British artist to be signed to Apple Records which was founded by the Beatles.

The iconic singer’s most successful album yet is his 1976 Greatest Hits album which has attained Diamond (over 10x Platinum) certification. All of Taylor’s albums released between 1977 and 2007 have each sold at least 1 million copies.

James Taylor was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) in 2000. In 2010, he was honoured with the United States National Medal of Arts by then-US president Barack Obama. In 2015, Taylor also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States.

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