clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

YouTube Gold: A Young James Taylor

Singing his first big hit Fire and Rain

James Taylor
 20th May 1969: Headshot portrait of American folk musician James Taylor.
Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A lot of good musicians have come from North Carolina - Theolonius Monk, Doc Watson, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Earl Scruggs and Randy Travis, to name a few.

But you can’t have that discussion without James Taylor.

Taylor grew up in Chapel Hill and began to play music in his teens. He had dual demons as a young man - mental health issues and a heroin addiction - and it took him time to overcome them.

Even so, he was building a reputation as a spectacular talent. He developed a unique style as a guitarist and was also a superb singer.

By the late 1960’s, he made his way to London where he made a deep impression on the Beatles, who signed him to their Apple label.

His first hit was Fire and Rain, which was about the suicide of a friend and his issues with addiction along with other things like the breakup of his first band.

This video of that song from 1969 underscores both his brilliance and fragility.

Taylor has had a massive influence on music for 50 years and has a unique ability to appeal to multiple generations simultaneously. Now 75, his career rolls on.