Born in Boston, Massachusetts, singer-songwriter James Taylor (1948-) was the son of an affluent medical school dean. The second of five children who grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Taylor loved music from the start.
"I don't read music. I don't write it. So I - I sit down. And basically, wander around on the guitar, until something starts to present itself," he said of his songwriting.
He was 12 when he got his first guitar. Three years later, he started playing local gigs. In 1965, he graduated from high school and moved to New York City.
Taylor suffered with depression and music became his refuge. "I write lots of songs that I guess you could call remedial, that are sort of therapeutic. Sometimes, I feel uncomfortable with that, as though they are too sticky and sentimental; but that's what I do, that's the kind of song I write."
Taylor released a solo album in 1969 while battling heroin addiction. His international hit Fire and Rain (1970) was about a friend's suicide and his own demons.
"Addiction," he said, "is a tragic waste of time."
Married to singer Carly Simon for ten years, they had two kids and recorded the duet Mockingbird (1974) at the height of their romance. "It's probably foolish to - to expect relationships to go on forever and to say that because something only lasts 10 years, it's a failure," he reflected.
About his songwriting, he once said, "You have to be ready to catch those things when they come down, you know, 'cause they'll just fall right through and you'll forget them."
With his comforting, easy-listening baritone and string of mellow-folk hits that include the classic tribute to friendship, You've Got A Friend, Taylor was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
"I define myself as an addict in recovery, as a father, as a husband and a mate and...a partner, as a member of a band who plays music, a performing artist and a songwriter, as well as a happy and grateful citizen," he said.
The key to joy is gratitude.