James Taylor is one of the most iconic folk singers of the 1960s, which is saying a lot. Although the Beatles occasionally dabbled in folk music, they largely stayed in a separate musical lane from Taylor. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t socially interact with the Beatles now and then.
In fact, Taylor auditioned for the Beatles. Later, Taylor had a front-row seat to the later years of the Beatles. Surprisingly, he admitted to being a bad influence on the group.
When James Taylor auditioned for two Beatles
Rolling Stone reports Taylor was signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records in 1968. He was able to secure an audition for the label after his friend gave his demo tape to Apple’s head of A&R, Peter Asher. On a 2015 episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, Taylor said scoring the audition was a great example of “being in the right place at the right time.”
Taylor was told he was going to audition for two Beatles an hour before the audition was going to happen. He recalled auditioning for Paul McCartney and George Harrison and being thoroughly intimidated by the experience, as most musicians would be. At the audition, he played “Something in the Way She Moves,” which was his favorite of the songs he’d written up to that point.
Paul and George saw his talent and Taylor was signed. His debut album became the first album by an American artist released by Apple Records. Taylor said he was glad he had so little time to prepare for the audition, as he would have stressed over the audition otherwise.
James Taylor watches as the Fab Four come undone
During the height of the Fab Four’s fame in the 1960s, fans would often eagerly wait for the latest Beatles release. Often, fans would have to wait a significant amount of time to hear something new from the Fab Four. Taylor was much luckier. He told The Guardian “I often came in early and would sit in the control room and listen to them recording – and hear playbacks of what they had just cut.”
Taylor told the newspaper he would often hang out with the Beatles. He socialized with them as the band was breaking up. Although fans still mourn the Beatles’ break-up, Taylor has a bit of a positive take on the situation. He said “it was a slow unraveling, but it was also an extremely creative unraveling.”
James Taylor’s bad influence on the Beatles
Although Taylor was making amazing music at this time, it wasn’t all fun and games. He developed an opium habit. Taylor would drink bottles of a medication called Collis Browne’s Chlorodyne, which was a tincture of opium. He admitted to being a bad influence on the Beatles because he gave John Lennon opiates. When The Guardian asked Taylor if he introduced John to opiates, he said he did not know.
Taylor wasn’t always a good influence on the Beatles. However, he was able to say the Beatles were fans of his work. That’s something to treasure.