Carole King played the piano at 3; conducted her first orchestra at 15; married at 17; became a mother at 18; and had co-written, by the time she was 23, a dozen rock ’n’ roll classics, songs revered and covered by the likes of the Beatles. By her late 20s, a divorcee with two young girls, King relocated from her New York-New Jersey axis to Los Angeles and tentatively began performing her own songs. In 1971 she released “Tapestry,’’ a Grammy-winning album that would remain on the top 100 album charts for six years and sell 25 million copies worldwide.
She would give birth to four children. These include two girls with Gerry Goffin, her first husband and greatest collaborator, the brilliant but troubled lyricist on all those ’60s classics (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” “The Loco-Motion,” “Up on the Roof,” “I’m Into Something Good,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” among others). A boy and a girl would come with Charles Larkey, her warmly remembered second husband, and the bassist on “Tapestry.’’
Born Carol Joan Klein in Brooklyn in 1942, King would marry twice more. Third husband Rick Evers, a frustrated musician, encouraged King’s surprising move, at the height of her fame, to desolate rural Idaho. There she home-schooled her youngest children, milked cows, tapped hot springs for water, and lived without electricity. Sinewy and possessive, Evers beat King numerous times until he died, at 31, from a cocaine overdose. Fourth husband Rick Sorenson, a rancher and native Idahoan, treated King gently; but the strain of nasty litigation with their farmland neighbors weighed heavily on him, and they ultimately divorced.
Since the early ’90s, King has jammed with Babyface and Bono, headlined benefits for Democratic presidential candidates, broken a few bones in unlucky mishaps, toured the world with James Taylor, and kvelled over the grandchildren who started arriving when she was 44.James Rosen, chief Washington correspondent for Fox News and author of “The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.