She recorded a handful of unsuccessful singles, including 'The Right Girl' (1958), 'Baby Sittin'', 'Queen Of The Beach' (1959), prior to recording 'Oh Neil' (1960), an answer to Sedaka's hit single, 'Oh Carol', that he had written about her. Although not a hit, her record impressed publishing magnate Don Kirshner, who signed her and her now husband Gerry Goffin to his Aldon Music empire.
By 1961, Goffin and King scored their first hit with the Shirelles' chart-topping "Will You Love Me Tomorrow; " their next effort, Bobby Vee's "Take Good Care of My Baby," also hit Number One, as did "The Locomotion," recorded by their baby-sitter, Little Eva (Boyd). Together, the couple wrote over 100 chart hits in a vast range of styles, including the Chiffons' "One Fine Day," the Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday," the Drifters' "Up on the Roof," the Cookies' "Chains" (later covered by the Beatles), and Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman". King also continued her attempts to mount a solo career, but scored only one hit, 1962's "It Might as Well Rain Until September."
In the mid-1960s she and Goffin, along with columnist Al Aronowitz founded their own record label, Tomorrow Records but the project ended when their marriage dissolved. This sad turn of events was chronicled on King's 1967 single, 'The Road To Nowhere'.
King then moved to Los Angeles and having signed to Lou Adler 's "Ode" label, formed a trio called "the City" with ex- Fugs duo Danny Kortchmar (guitar) and Charles Larkey (bass). Carole married Larkey in 1968, and the band recorded one LP, "Now That Everything's Been Said", but did not tour due to King's stage fright. As a result, the album was a commercial failure, although it did feature songs later popularized the Byrds' ("Wasn't Born to Follow"), Blood, Sweat and Tears ("Hi-De-Ho") and James Taylor ("You've Got a Friend").
Taylor and King ultimately became close friends, and he encouraged her to pursue a solo career. In 1970, she recorded an album called "Writer" which was largely overlooked, but 1971 saw her breakthrough album, "Tapestry", which stayed on the charts for over six years and was the best-selling album of the era. A quiet, reflective work which proved seminal in the development of the singer/songwriter genre, Tapestry also scored a pair of hit singles for Carole, "So Far Away" and the chart-topping "It's Too Late," whose flip-side, "I Feel the Earth Move," garnered major airplay as well. Her 1971 follow up album, "Music" also hit Number One, and generated the hit "Sweet Seasons and 1972's "Rhymes and Reasons" reached Number Two on the charts. She continued with 1974's "Wrap Around Joy", which featured the number one hit "Jazzman".
In 1975, King and Goffin reunited professionally to write songs for the album "Thoroughbred", which also featured contributions from James Taylor, David Crosby and Graham Nash. The album did not fair well and it's failure marked the end of King's tenure at Ode Records. After 1977's "Simple Things", she mounted a tour with the backing group Navarro, and married her frequent songwriting partner Rick Evers, who died a year later after a heroin overdose.
1980's "Pearls", a collection of performances of songs written during her partnership with Goffin, was her last significant hit, and King soon moved to a tiny mountain village in Idaho, where she became active in the environmental movement. After 1983's "Speeding Time", she took a six-year hiatus from recording before releasing "City Streets", in 1989, which featured guest Eric Clapton.
In 1991, she and Mariah Carey wrote the song "If It's Over" for Carey's second album "Emotions", but her own 1992 release "Now and Forever" and her 1993 "Colour of Your Dreams" confirmed that she could no longer reach the sales figures that she did earlier in her career. Carole then tried her hand at acting, as witnessed by her starring role in Broadway's Blood Brothers, for a successful six month run in 1994. Two years later she appeared in Brighton Beach Memoirs in Ireland, directed by Peter Sheridan.
In 1996, Carole wrote "Wall Of Smiles / Torre De Marfil" with Soraya for her 1997 album of the same title. The following year she co-wrote "The Reason" for Aerosmith, but Celine Dion also used it as the title track for her million selling 1997 album. When released as a single, "The Reason" peaked at number 11 in the United Kingdom and number 13 in Ireland. In 2000, Joel Whitburn, a Billboard magazine pop music researcher, named her the most successful female songwriter of 1955 to 1999, because she wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
Carole was inducted into the "Hit Parade" Hall of Fame in 2009 and her most recent non-compilation album is 2010 release of "Live at the Troubadour", a 2007 collaboration with James Taylor, which reached #4 on the charts in its first week, and has sold over 600,000 copies.
Carole King will always have a lofty place in music history, responsible for some of rock and roll's most memorable tunes. "Tapestry" has sold over 15 million copies. Besides her own hits, here is a reminder of just a few of the ones that she wrote or co-wrote for other artists:
The Shirelles - "Chains", "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby", "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"
Chiffons - One Fine Day
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Hi-De-Ho
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
The Drifters - Up On The Roof
Bobby Vee - Take Good Care of My Baby
Little Eva - The Locomotion
Monkees - Pleasant Valley Sunday
James Taylor - You've Got A Friend