Carole King co-wrote the soundtrack of the early 1960s, but none of us knew her name. With then husband, Gerry Goffin, Carole wrote dozens of hit records for The Shirelles, The Crystals, Beatles, Monkees, Aretha Franklin and many more.
Carole was a gifted musician too shy to perform her own songs. Other acts turned them into hits. But around 1970, in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles, James Taylor persuaded and cajoled her into performing. She was a hit on the LA live scene, and her second album, Tapestry, took off like a rocket.
It sold 10 million copies on first release, and many millions more since. Four Grammy awards, a long list of achievements and honours. It was the first big album success of the then new singer-songwriter era. Tapestry, and its creator, deserved all these honours, and more.
Writing pop and rock tunes is a strange craft, marrying urgent love haikus to riffs and melodies, surfing teenage emotions as they grow into adult ambitions and deep, yearning dreams. The best songsmiths make it look easy. Carole King is one of the greats - and Tapestry is a deep well of love, joy, and musical adventure.
Listen to my tribute to Tapestry
Great guitar riffs are in rock music's DNA. They're right at the heart of what makes a song memorable, and what makes it a hit.
Young guitar players spend weeks and months figuring out some of rock's great riffs. They are meant to be memorable - but sometimes, it seems certain you've heard those riffs before. In some cases, you have. Have a listen.
Two giants of music left us this year. Malcolm Cecil invented TONTO - the analogue synthesiser that drove Stevie Wonder's early 70s string of hit albums. Malcolm's creation brought all the early synths together, creating incredible new sounds and possibilities.
And we remember Rupert Neve - the father of the modern recording studio. Rupert brought the best of new and emerging technologies to solve the challenges that emerged in the early rock and pop era. The Neve mixing console at Sound City studios in Los Angeles is responsible for more than 100 gold or platinum albums, including Fleetwood Mac's self-titled 1975 breakthrough.
Listen to the story of Malcolm and Rupert.
Richard is a writer, podcaster, radio and TV broadcaster, an editor, and a lover of music. He tells the stories of how great songs are made, and of the people who make them.