‘I was a bad influence on the Beatles’: James Taylor on Lennon, love and recovery

James Taylor looks out at the sprawling London skyline. “This is where it started,” he says. “The moment.” He made his first trip here in 1968, playing for Paul McCartney and George Harrison and becoming the first artist signed to the Beatles’ record label, Apple Records. This was before he moved to Laurel Canyon with the rest of the denim-draped California dreamers who defined the sound of the late 60s and far beyond. Before he met David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Before he and Mitchell fell in love. Before he wrote his pivotal album Sweet Baby James during a stint in a psychiatric hospital. Before his marriage to Carly Simon, which opened up his personal life – including his long battle with heroin addiction – to public consciousness. Before he sold 100m records, performed for the Obamas and the Clintons, and then, decades later, appeared on stage with one of the world’s biggest pop stars, Taylor Swift, who is named after him.

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