Technically speaking, Carole King is already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as part of a songwriting team, but as a performer she is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The question here is whether or not Carole King deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice. Before the induction of Stevie Nicks as a solo artist, no woman had ever been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on multiple occasions, and it is well worth asking what it is that makes Carole King such a compelling artist. King’s career was certainly an interesting one, in that she began as a noted pop songwriter whose it songs were performed by a wide variety of groups, and then, starting in the 1960’s, and especially after the smash success of her Tapestry album, became one of the best-selling singer-songwriters of that decade. It should also be noted that most of the male singer-songwriters of that note, including one (James Taylor) who covered one of her songs from Tapestry (“You’ve Got A Friend”) have themselves been inducted, but not Carly Simon or Carole King themselves, for what it’s worth. Looking at the quality of King’s material as a singer-songwriter as well as her album success, I think she obviously deserves an induction as a musician in Cleveland. Let us lay out the case why this is so.
The Influence Of Carole King
It is worthwhile to examine the influence of Carole King by taking a vignette of her career as a recording artist over the course of several decades. In 1962, she made her first top 40 single off of a track that she had written for another artist in “It Might As Well Rain In September.” In 1971, Carole King released Tapestry, an album that has sold more than ten million copies and has at least half a dozen songs that even casual fans of 70’s music know, including “It’s Too Late,” “I Feel The Earth Move,” “So Far Away,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” In 1980 she re-covered a song she had written, “One Fine Day,” and turned it into a top 20 hit. In 1995, a variety of artists recorded Tapestry Revisited, and Rod Stewart’s remake of “So Far Away” deservedly became a hit in itself. And in 2001, Carole King recorded with Semisonic on their “All About Chemistry” sessions with the beautiful and touching song “One True Love,” one of the standouts of that massively underappreciated album. Despite having begun her career as a songwriter in the infernal mills of the music industry, she was no flash in the pan as a recording artist either.
Why Carole King Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
When one looks at Carole King’s recording career, it is worthwhile to examine both her albums and her singles. Starting from 1971’s Tapestry, every one of the seven studio albums that King released up to 1977 hit at least gold, with Tapestry being certified for 13 times platinum and 1971’s Music for platinum. In addition to that, she has a gold-certified live album with 2010’s “Live At The Troubadour” and a platinum-selling greatest hits compilation from 1978. That is more than enough to demonstrate that she had a lengthy and compelling album career. As far as her hit singles go, Carole King has a double-A sided #1 hit with “It’s Too Late / I Feel The Earth Move,” a #2 hit with Jazzman, two #9 hits with “Sweet Seasons” and “Nightingale,” two additional top 20 hits with the #12 “One Fine Day” and the #14 “So Far Away” and six additional top 40 hits with “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” “Been To Canaan,” “Believe In Humanity,” “Corazon,” “Only Love Is Real,” and “Hard Rock Cafe,” an enviable record. This is not even including her additional success on the AC charts or her notable success in Canada and Australia as a hit artist as well .
Why Carole King Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame As A Musician
Given that more than 20 men have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice and one person (so far) three times, it is a bit puzzling why it is that Carole King would only be the second (or third, if Tina Turner is inducted as a solo artist as well) woman to be so honored. Her career certainly deserves it, but it is possible that some people thought that her induction as a songwriter was enough to honor her career when that was really only the first act of her career. Whatever the excuse given as to why so many other of her peers were inducted as musicians from her singer-songwriter scene and she was not, it is not really a good enough excuse.
Verdict: Put her in. She’s got the songs, and she is worthy for Tapestry alone, much less the full span of her career as an artist.