Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Carole King

While Carole King—who turned 69 on Wednesday—scored five top 10 singles in the early 1970s as a solo artist ("I Feel the Earth Move," "It's Too Late," "Sweet Seasons," "Jazzman," "Nightingale"), along with her seminal No. 1 album "Tapestry," the four-time Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Songwriter's Hall of Fame inductee logged what is arguably her greatest accomplishment in 1997, when she penned the luscious "The Reason" for Celine Dion's "Let's Talk About Love" album—and sang backing vocals on the track with the world's greatest singer.

While that song, which was produced by Sir George Martin, was never released in the U.S. (Sony=duh), it spent 13 weeks at No. 1 in France (selling 1 million copies), reached No. 11 in the U.K. and 13 in Ireland.

Carole and Celine performed "The Reason" on VH1's first "Divas Live" concert in 1998 in New York—which happens to be the first time I met Celine Dion face to face, after interviewing her on the phone numerous times for Billboard.

I have crystal clear memories of sitting in the audience at Beacon Theater, sitting beside Celine's hubby Rene, watching her rehearse with Carole King. The latter, sitting at the piano, asked Celine a question about the the tempo, and she responded, "Anyway you want to, honey." Their performance for the show was utterly riveting: two legends interacting for the world to see. Carole also performed "You've Got a Friend," with other Divas Shania Twain and Mariah Carey. Thank god Aretha Franklin, who did everything in her 500-pound power to hijack the evening, sat that one out.Following the rehearsal, Rene invited me to join he, Celine, Sony reps and their staff for a dinner in the West Village. I was beside myself, equally thrilled and anxious. When I sat down at the table, Celine ended up cozying up right beside me.

By evening's end, I was sharing mashed potatoes with her, and she proved to be among the most down-to-earth, approachable, lovable talents I ever met. In my dealings with her over the following years, that never changed. She and Rene—despite their fame and fortune—are among the most humble, appreciative A-listers I've ever known. To this day, that night stands as one of the three greatest experiences of my career. Ever.