The Truth About Carly Simon And James Taylor's Relationship

The following article includes mentions of drug addiction.

When the sweet-sounding James Taylor wed "You're So Vain" songstress Carly Simon, they quickly became the musical power couple of the '70s and the early '80s. Taylor was already creating hits with his debut album, which produced the songs "Something in the Way She Moves" and "Carolina on My Mind," while his sophomore album "Sweet Baby James" gave fans one of his biggest hits to date, "Fire and Rain." The couple even used their talents to come together for several memorable duets, including "Mockingbird" and "You Can Close Your Eyes." Add that with their incredible individual success, and the duo seemed unstoppable. 

However, behind the scenes, Taylor and Simon's marriage was crumbling. The couple's romance was plagued by drug addiction, infidelity, and emotional distance. Simon later shared in her memoir "Boys in the Trees" (via People), "Our love became bipolar, switching from love to hate, lust to loathing, and back again, sometimes within a day." Their love story was cut short, and ultimately, it all came crashing down. 

The truth behind Carly Simon and James Taylor's relationship is that it was a marriage that was passionate, yet also tumultuous. Let's take a closer look into what happened to their iconic romance. 

They have known one another since childhood

Carly Simon and James Taylor spent their summers on Martha's Vineyard, an island south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, known for its lush green landscape, beautiful homes, and sandy beaches. Simon came from a wealthy upbringing in New York — her father, Richard Simon, became the co-founder of book publishing company Simon & Schuster, per the Vineyard Gazette. As for Taylor, his father, Dr. Isaac Taylor, was a physician and the Dean of the Medical School of the University of North Carolina, and while the future musician grew up in the southern state, their family owned a summer home on the Vineyard, per Rolling Stone.

According to the Vineyard Gazette, Carly and James have known one another since she was 11 and he was 7, with their families becoming "fixtures on the Island." Although they weren't friends at the time, James later stated to Rolling Stone in 1973 how he saw Carly on stage with her sister, Lucy Simon, in the early '60s and recalled, "I thought she was quite attractive, but she was, and still is, four years older than I was, so back then when she was 18 and I was 14 she was a bit less approachable than she was when I was 24." 

Little did they know that they would become more than just acquaintances on the island.

Carly Simon predicted she would marry James Taylor

In her "Boys in the Trees" memoir, which was published in 2016, Carly Simon recalled the time she knew that she would marry James Taylor after seeing him on the cover of Time magazine. "Without thinking, I blurted, with confidence: 'I'm going to marry him,'" Simon shared. "How did I know this? People have asked me over the years. The only answer I can come up with is that he, James, was perfect for me in every way. If you believe in predestination or clairvoyance, that would be a terrific example of why you're right to."

Taylor was already making a name for himself in music at this time. His self-titled debut album was released in 1968, but it would be his second record "Sweet Baby James" that would put him on the map. His song "Fire and Rain" peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and a year later, in 1971, he released his third album "Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon," which contained the No. 1 hit song "You've Got a Friend." The tune also earned Taylor his first Grammy Award for best pop vocal performance.

An offer to cook led to a serious relationship

Carly Simon and James Taylor didn't reconnect until 1971, when she shared in her memoir "Boys in the Trees" that she saw him on the floor of her dressing room after opening for Cat Stevens. Simon wrote (via Rolling Stone), "He wore dark red, loose, wide-wale corduroys and a long-sleeved Henley with one button open, his right hand clutching a hand-rolled cigarette." She added, "He seemed both kempt and unkempt. Even sprawled out on the floor, everything about him communicated that he was, in fact, the center of something — the core of an apple, the center of a note." However, Taylor was dating singer Joni Mitchell at the time. 

In her memoir, Simon further recalled that she would see Taylor again that same year when she was given tickets to see him perform at Carnegie Hall. This time, she was able to speak to the singer-songwriter and shared, "He turned toward me, and his eyes hadn't even met mine when I said, before I could think: 'If you ever want a home-cooked meal while you're here in New York, I'd love to make lunch for you.'" He insisted that the home-cooked meal happen the same night, with the pair eventually ending up in her apartment. The two ate Sara Lee banana cake together, with Simon later telling Harper's Bazaar that the special moment "expanded into a life together."

Carly Simon and James Taylor wed in 1972

In a joint interview with Rolling Stone in 1973, the "You're So Vain" singer shared how she had brought up the idea of marriage to James Taylor, who initially told her, "There's really no reason to get married. We love each other and we've been living together." However, Taylor soon had a change of heart, with Carly Simon recalling, "Later on in the afternoon, James said, 'You know I've been thinking about it and maybe we should get married.' I said, 'Well, what's happened between this morning and this afternoon?' He said, 'This afternoon it was my idea.'"

The couple would wed on November 3, 1972, when Simon was 30 and Taylor 26. In an interview with Dan Rather decades later, Simon looked back at the start of their marriage and said, "I was so happy. I remember thinking, 'I'm really safe now, I'm really safe.' And it's because James was my safe person." The two remained very close during this time, with Simon noting that they would spend every evening together.

Years later, however, after their iconic split, Taylor would admit to ABC's "7:30 Report" in 2010 that getting married in his 20s was a bit "premature" on his part. He explained, "It was kind of doomed. I mean, really, it was just — I was unfit to be a husband and father."

The singer-songwriters welcomed two children

Carly Simon and James Taylor welcomed two children during their marriage. A daughter named Sarah Taylor, also known as Sally, was born in January 1974, and their son, Ben Taylor, made his entrance into the world in January 1977. Both children would inherit their celeb parents' musical talents

Singing folk and pop just like her mom and dad, Sally created her own record label called Blue Elbow in 1998. The record company's debut release was her own album, entitled "Tomboy Bride," on which fans can also hear a duet with her famous father called "Unsung Dance," per MTV News. In total, she has released three albums, with "Apt. #6S" dropping in 2000, and her third record, titled "Shotgun," hitting shelves the following year. 

As for Ben, he has released five albums, as of this writing, with his 2003 debut record titled "Famous Among the Barns." According to his website, Ben stepped away from music to become a stonemason on Martha's Vineyard, but announced a return in 2020. Listening to Ben sing, it's easy to compare the singer to his sweet-sounding dad. 

Carly Simon and James Taylor: a musical power couple

Carly Simon and James Taylor were a force to be reckoned with in the '70s, with their songs taking them to the top of music charts. As previously mentioned, Taylor was already a glorified folk star following the release of his sophomore album "Sweet Baby James," and during their marriage, Taylor would drop several masterful hits — including "Mexico," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," and "Handy Man."

For her part, Simon rose to stardom in 1971 when she released her self-titled debut album, which won her a Grammy for best new artist. By 1972, Simon would take the music world by storm when she released her third album "No Secrets," which birthed the hit "You're So Vain." She would also find success with her fourth record "Hotcakes," which contained the popular tune — and her duet with Taylor – "Mockingbird." The pair would later record together again on the song "Devoted to You" for Simon's 1978 record "Boys in the Trees."

In their joint 1973 interview with Rolling Stone, the then-married duo admitted that they felt some sort of "competition" as they were both huge stars working in the same scene. "I was afraid to say anything negative about her music. Any criticism that I had, I felt would make her dislike me," Taylor shared, with Simon adding, "I feel as though I'm walking on hot coals." However, it wouldn't be their high-profiled careers that would ultimately end their marriage.

Things eventually took a turn in their marriage

Despite finding so much success in the music industry, things looked very different between Carly Simon and James Taylor behind the scenes. During an interview with Dan Rather, Simon spoke about Taylor's addiction to heroin, which began early on in his life and continued into their marriage. 

"Little by little, the unknowables started to creep in and started to forecast something greater than I would know what to do with. He put it so well in one of his songs. ... He says, 'Angry men, hungry women.' And I was hungry for more intimacy, and he withdrew from my emotional power," Simon shared, adding that her ex's excessive use of alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana ultimately became "a poly-addiction." 

Simon also discussed this difficult part of their lives in her memoir "Boys in the Trees," revealing that Taylor was not immediately upfront about his drug use, despite their deep connection from the start. "It would be months before he revealed his secret: a serious drug habit he had wrestled with for years," she wrote (via the Daily Mail). Simon went on to reveal, "Our 11-year marriage would be over by the time he conquered it."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

James Taylor's drug addiction put 'a wall up between' them

Back in 1973, Carly Simon called her then-husband's drug addiction "harrowing" in their joint Rolling Stone interview, but admitted that she "didn't really understand the extent" of his dependency on various substances. The singer-songwriter added, "It just kind of confused me that there was a wall up between us and I didn't know exactly what it was, because I had never been close to anybody who was really addicted to anything before." She would later reveal in her memoir how she'd once seen James Taylor shoot up heroin in front of her, recalling (via the Los Angeles Times) that he'd said, "I can't have you and the habit at the same time."

Taylor himself later admitted that his addiction to drugs was a big reason his marriage to Simon crumbled, telling Parade in January 2022 how if affected his presence in the relationship: "You could fall in love, but if one of the people is addicted, it's not going to work. The whole person is simply not available." The musician had previously shared with The Guardian how this struggle also affected how well he and Simon knew each other — and even how well he knew himself. "It's terrible," he concluded.

Although Taylor's drug addiction played a major factor in their marriage's ultimate demise, he and Simon also dealt with cheating on both sides. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Their relationship was plagued by infidelities

Being faithful in their marriage was also apparently an issue for the musical pair. Before Carly Simon and James Taylor were to wed, she recalled in her memoir how the wife of the Rolling Stones' frontman Mick Jagger had called Taylor the night before and urged him not to marry Simon because she was having an affair with the rockstar. However, Taylor didn't believe a word, stating (via the Daily Mail), "I'm sure that's not true. Carly had told me about it and it's not what you think. I trust my wife-to-be." However, Simon did later admit in her memoir that she and Jagger had flirted immensely every time they saw one another.

According to the New York Daily News, Taylor was also allegedly unfaithful in their marriage with many women, including a backup singer and someone named Evey. He supposedly even went as far as having the latter move into a New York City apartment where he rehearsed. Simon, who admitted to having an affair with producer Scott Litt around this time, wrote in her "Boys in the Trees" book how she confronted Taylor's alleged mistress (via Showbiz411): "I wanted Evey to see that I was not a character in a story James was telling her, not some phantom abstraction, but a real person, and a nice person, too. I wanted her to respect James' any my marriage, our children, our life together." Evey reportedly replied, "Jamie and I have the same trines in our charts. We dig each other. You don't get him."

Carly Simon and James Taylor separated in 1981

By 1981, this celebrity marriage had come to an end, and James Taylor and Carly Simon were living separately. In an interview at the time, the "You're So Vain" hitmaker shared that she didn't have any regrets about their relationship. "We had nine wonderful years together and ... two wonderful children," she said. "And I think it's to our credit that we realized when things were no longer really mendable."

The couple officially divorced in 1983, with Simon admitting in "Boys in the Trees" (via People) that she turned to drugs like Quaaludes and pain medication herself to cope with their bitter breakup. "I didn't ever do anything like drink or do coke or anything like that," she added. "I liked it, I enjoyed it, but I don't think I ever really got addicted." Perhaps to the surprise of many fans, she also shared in her memoir that she believed Taylor's drug addiction was not necessarily to blame for their divorce. "Anything could have happened," Simon explained. "... If the demons that were in him went someplace other than drugs, it would have been something other than drugs that would have been difficult to live with I think too."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She's claimed that James Taylor no longer speaks to her

Carly Simon and James Taylor have apparently not spoken since their divorce. It's something Simon has admitted to having a hard time understanding even decades later, once sharing with Salon in 2015, "Well, I would say that the relationship is very resolved from James' point of view, which makes it clearly impossible for me to have a relationship with him because he's put down an iron curtain." Simon is also reportedly not allowed to have her ex-husband's phone number either: That same year, she claimed to the Los Angeles Times that their two adult children don't have his permission to share it with her.

For his part, Taylor rarely publicly speaks about his relationship with Simon — but he did once address the fact that he no longer speaks to his ex-wife, telling The Telegraph in 2018, "That's sort of the point about divorce, that you go your own ways." However, he also added, "I don't know when she has determined that the relationship ended, but we communicated closely for years about the kids. Carly was important to me. But it did end."

James Taylor barely mentioned her in his audio memoir

Unlike Carly Simon, who has spoken openly about her relationship to James Taylor in books and the in media, it seems the "Fire and Rain" singer would rather stay mum about his first marriage. Although he came out with an audio memoir about his life in 2020, entitled "Break Shot: My First 21 Years," he apparently purposely left out Simon for the most part, detailing just this early period of his life, which included his relationship with his parents, his stay at a psychiatric hospital, and making music with The Beatles. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the only mention of Simon is when they met on Martha's Vineyard as kids. When talking about choosing to mostly exclude his romantic relationships, Taylor shared, "Maybe that's why Bill [the producer of Taylor's audio memoir] suggested we do that early part [of my life], so as not to have to make decisions like that." He added, "It's hard to talk about, to tell half a story like that. To own the whole thing — I'm glad I didn't have to talk about those intimate relationships with people who are still alive." 

However, Taylor does briefly mention Joni Mitchell, with whom he had a romantic relationship before marrying Simon. He explained, "Our romance did not last that long, but our friendship has sustained for 50 years."

She's continued to reside in the home they once shared

When Carly Simon and James Taylor got hitched, they decided to move back to their old stomping grounds and built a home on Martha's Vineyard. Simon still calls it home and, as of 2018, was living there with boyfriend and surgeon Richard Koehler, per The New York Times.

The songstress told Salon her thoughts about residing in the home that she and Taylor created all those years ago. "Oh, it's very sweet. I mean, I look at all the strange angles [of the house]. The first parts of the house were all planned by James," she said. "... And of course, everybody tells me, The house is yours now — and I do feel that. I don't feel like I'm living in James' house. But there are constant memories, because ... it's not that we moved into some place together. We built it together."

Previously talking to the Los Angeles Times, Simon revealed how Taylor himself once referred to the home as the "shack" when they began to build it back in the '70s. Simon has since renamed it Hidden Star Hill, with a fishing rod owned by Taylor being the last thing to go. "If I really wanted to have another life, I had to move that," she shared. 

Carly Simon has admitted she still loves James Taylor

Not being able to speak to her ex-husband and father of her children is understandably difficult for Carly Simon, but she still holds a special place for him in her heart. She even admitted in an interview with Dan Rather that she still loves James Taylor, but noted, "It's not a sad love. ... Sometimes it's critical and infuriating, but it's not sad." Disclosing what she finds frustrating about the state of their relationship these days, she said, "Because of the contrast of us and my yang-ness and his yin-ness, we can't blend in any way that either of us has even thought of how to do yet."

Echoing this sentiment to People in 2015, Simon further said of Taylor, "My incredible loyalty to him, in spite of the fact that he has treated me without any regard, has been so painful to me for so long." Luckily, writing her "Boys in the Trees" memoir allowed her to reflect on the ups and downs of their relationship, come to some major realizations, and finally heal. "I really started to understand that I could love and not be loved," she explained, adding, "It doesn't have to be a two-way street."

For his part, Taylor has since remarried to his third wife, Caroline Smedvig, in 2001. They welcomed twin sons Rufus and Henry via surrogate that same year, per The U.S. Sun. The only question, perhaps, that remains is: Will James Taylor ever speak to ex-wife Carly Simon again? We imagine only time will tell.