Monday, May 7, 2012

Story Behind Carole King's Classic Kitty Album Cover Is Revealed In Photographer's Obituary

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."



Anonymous said...

I can see that album cover like it was yesterday

Anonymous said...

Aww noooo....oh how very very sad this loss is...that poor baby....this was someone's fault- some HUMAN should take some of the blame for this....It terrifies me as my 3 yr old siamese
boy, Spencer is tipping the scales at 15 lbs & his vet has just kindly mentioned that he needs to cut back on his kibble. It breaks my heart when he stands next to that empty kibble dish & YELLS at me when its empty!
Rather than keeping it FULL as I USED to, I now place but a few measily kibbles in there, so at least its not completely empty. And those TREATIES in the ceramic jar? I try to limit those to 2-3 a day. His house-mate, Benny is a bit underweight so HE can have all of ANYTHING he desires...(we try to accomplish this when Spencer is in another room.) BUT! It IS OUR responsibility! We have to LOVE them enuf to do the RIGHT thing for them!!! PERIOD...awwwwww...

Bernadette said...

I love that photo! I sketched it in pencil and created a relief sculpture of it in college. But what I've loved best is it just looks like a candid shot, like she and her cat were enjoying the sunlight.

Really, seeing it here was like seeing an old friend. I still have mine. Thanks for posting!

Cat said...

This album cover is like part of my youth, so cool to learn the story of it!!!

Clarissa said...

What an interesting story behind the pictures. Mom listened to this album constantly in her teens.

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

I love how you mentioned this. Do you know that this was the FIRST album I think I bought? I was a teenager (now that i totally dated myself lol)

I used to play this album on the piano...ironically I remember adoring this cover. I didn't own a cat at the time (or hadn't ever) strange twist is my first cat some umpteen years later turned out to look quite similar to this kitty.

Thanks for the background info!

Layla Morgan Wilde ( Cat Wisdom 101) said...

Loved hearing the backstory of this iconic pic. The cat looks like he's about to bolt :-)

Anonymous said...

This always was, and still is, one of my favorite albums, and yes like many of the other people posting, I was a teenager too when it came out. Always loved that photo because Carole looked so relaxed and because there was a cat in it, I knew Carole was a good person.

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