The Los Angeles Times recently featured the obituary of Jim McCrary, the famous rock photographer who passed away on April 29 at the age of 72. McCrary shot over 300 album covers for A&M Records, and was instrumental in including a tabby on the cover of Carole King's acclaimed 1971 album, "Tapestry."
In the opening paragraph of the obit, we learn the real story behind the classic cover that almost never came to be:
"Photographer Jim McCrary was on the verge of shooting one of his most famous images when he stopped to ask singer Carole King if the cat sleeping across the room could be part of the tableau.
He remembered the results of a Kodak survey that found "after children, the most popular thing people photographed was their own cats," he later said. "I saw a cat, and I wanted to get something good."
When King assured him that her pet was docile, he carried the tabby and its pillow to the window ledge and into the frame. By the third click of his camera, the cat had slipped away but McCrary had what he needed: a picture of both the barefoot songstress and her whiskered feline that became the cover of King's landmark 1971 "Tapestry" album."
Admittedly, it wasn't the cat who made the award-winning LP one of the best-selling albums of all time (hits like ""I Feel the Earth Move" and "It's Too Late" were responsible for that), but as record producer Lou Adler points out, McCrary's strength was not just in photography, but being able to bring a piece of the artist out in his work. Adler remembers, "Conceptually, he always understood what the person was about and was able to photograph their personality. A perfect example of that is the 'Tapestry' album.... The idea of having the cat, that brought a personal feeling to it."