Curiosity got the best of me when I went digging deeper to find out more about Carole King’s kitty companion on the cover of her iconic 1971 solo LP, which turns 50 today
Today the music world is celebrating 50 years of Tapestry by Carole King, the iconic template for all great singer-songwriter albums to follow its route along the great American highway of song.
I’ve always been curious about the cat on the cover of the album, joining Carole at the big window she’s seated beside. Then I found an old obituary of famed rock photographer Jim McCrary, who had passed away on April 29, 2012 at age 72, in the Los Angeles Times. Written by Valerie J. Nelson on May 6, 2012, the piece kicks off with the story behind McCrary’s sessions for the Tapestry cover and how her cat, Telemachus, became the unlikely star of the shoot.
“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,” Nelson wrote. “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,” Nelson continued. “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.”
Then I found a 2014 Tweet from Carole herself, who is very active on social media at 79 years young, in where she offers a photo of Telemachus as a wee kitten.
“Perhaps the most famous tabby cat on earth,” she wrote. “Telemachus as a kitten. Photo @LouiseGoffin age 5.”
Watch this space for further coverage of Tapestry at 50 in the coming days. But for the album’s proper anniversary I just wanted to give a little shout out to my favorite rock ‘n’ roll gato–the immortal Telemachus.