The Web      Powered by


Return to Transcripts main page


Profiles of Rod Stewart; Carly Simon

Aired February 19, 2005 - 11:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins in a moment, but first stories now in the news at this hour.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are meeting with their Japanese counterparts this morning. The topics are Taiwan, security and North Korea's nuclear pursuits. We'll have their remarks live at the bottom of the hour.

More mixed signals from North Korea today on nuclear negotiations. Now the regime of Kim Jong-Il says no one-on-one talks with the U.S. are needed. That seems to raise the possibility the north could return to six-nation talks. One official is quoted today as saying Pyongyang will do so if the U.S. promises not to interfere in its domestic affairs.

In Iraq, a suicide bomber blew himself up today on a bus in Baghdad. The attack was one of five blasts across Iraq that left at least 25 people dead. The violence comes on the holiest day of the Shiite calendar. Another attack occurred during a funeral when a man rode a bicycle into a tent and set off explosives. Police say at least three people were killed in that attack. We'll go live to Baghdad for the latest at the top of next hour.

And former Presidents Bush and Clinton are visiting tsunami ravaged areas of Thailand today. They're urging Americans not to forget those still suffering. President Bush appointed his father and Clinton to lead private fund raising efforts for tsunami victims.

A complete rap of the news coming up in one hour on "CNN LIVE SATURDAY." "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS begins right now.


ROD STEWART, MUSICIAN: Wake up, Maggie I think I have something to say to you...


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, the flamboyant rocker is back in the spotlight with a Grammy award-winning album.


STEWART: I always admired Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday.


ANNOUNCER: A surprising comeback for a legendary story teller.


ALAN LIGHT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "TRACKS" MAGAZINE: Rod Stewart is a remarkable survivor.


ANNOUNCER: Rod the mod, Rod the rocker, Rod the balladeer, good times, bad times.


STEWART: There was a period where I didn't think I was going to sing again.


ANNOUNCER: The famous loves, losses and lifestyle of Rod Stewart on stage and off.



CARLY SIMON, MUSICIAN: Anticipation...


ANNOUNCER: Carly Simon...


SIMON: keeping me waiting...


ANNOUNCER: ...unscripted.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you like living on the edge?

SIMON: It's the only way I've ever been able to do it.


ANNOUNCER: A legendary musician whose songs have inspired a generation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Carly Simon, you know, represents, you know, the kind of best of what a career as a singer/song writer can be.


ANNOUNCER: Now she goes beyond the music and opens up about her childhood anxieties, turbulent relationships and bouts with depression and cancer.


SIMON: Sometimes I can love myself and sometimes I just really -- I can't bear myself. You're so vain.


ANNOUNCER: Plus, a few clues to the secret that has kept us guessing for more than three decades.


SIMON: The name of the person it was about -- I bet you think this song is about you.


ANNOUNCER: An intimate glimpse at a music icon. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

ZAHN: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. It seems almost impossible but up until last Sunday, the legendary Rod Stewart had never won a Grammy. He had been nominated before, 13 times, in fact. But it took "Stardust: The Great American Song Book, Volume III" to finally land the 60-year-old Stewart his first Grammy ever, the first in a career that spans more than 25 years. Here's Kyra Phillips.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That voice, that hair, the outfits, the women. With his outrageous style and flamboyant performances, rock legend, Rod Stewart, has entertained fans for more than 25 years.

R. STEWART: I just want to make love to you for 24 hours...

PHILLIPS: And at 60, the veteran rocker has discovered life after rock n roll with a soulful new collection of American standards, classics like "What a Wonderful World."

R. STEWART: I see skies of blue...

PHILLIPS: ...songs and artists that Stewart has embraced throughout his storied career. R. STEWART: I think you can -- you can hear in my voice, the love of it, you know. It comes through. You can really breathe some soul into these songs and this is something I've been wanting to do for 25 years.

PHILLIPS: The rock 'n roll hall of famer also took home his first ever Grammy Award for "Stardust: The Great American Songbook Volume III." The first two Grammy nominated songbooks went platinum, selling more than 10 million copies. A successful new direction for the pop star turned crooner that's put Rod Stewart back in the spotlight.

R. STEWART: I wasn't getting played on MTV or VH-1 and I'm not complaining about that. So this was a great outlet for me, but I really had no idea that it was going to be this successful, not in a million years.

Isn't it romantic...

PHILLIPS: Standards like "Isn't It Romantic," harking back to an era of music that takes Stewart back to his roots in North London.

R. STEWART: And this is where I heard most of these songs or a lot of these songs, anyway. We had huge parties at Christmas. Because I was only little, I was sent to bed. You have to go to bed. And you know, when I could hear everyone singing, I'd creep down and get under -- we had a small Baby Grand piano -- I'd get under there and listen to everyone singing and dancing and being drunk.

PHILLIPS: Roderick David Stewart was born in Highgate, North London on January 10, 1945. He was a fifth child of Scottish born, Elsie and Robert Stewart, the proprietors of a small newspaper and candy shop.

R. STEWART: It was a working class family from North London, two brothers and two sisters. We're still a very tight family, a tight clan. And I was spoiled rotten because I was the youngest one.

PHILLIPS: The Stewarts loved music and family get-togethers. Stewart's own musical interest began in grade school with a gift from his father.

R. STEWART: Well, me dad bought me a guitar for no apparent reason. And I wanted a station for Christmas, a motor rollaway station. He came home with a guitar. I was absolutely devastated, and he said, "There's money in this. There's going to be money in it for you." So I started learning how to play it.

PHILLIPS: If music was the first love in the Stewart house, soccer was a close second. Robert Stewart was a gregarious father whose lifelong dream was for one of his sons to play professional soccer.

R. STEWART: Me two brothers played, me dad played, and me grandfather played. We're soccer mad, you know.

PHILLIPS: In high school, Rod was captain of his soccer team. But schoolwork never captured his imagination, and by age 16, he dropped out. After a short stint as a gravedigger and window washer, in 1961, Rod fulfilled his father's dream and joined the Brentford Football Club in West London.

R. STEWART: I think I wanted to keep me dad happy. And with three sons, I was the only one that looked like he could be a professional. So -- but my heart and soul wasn't in it because I'd already fallen in love with music.

PHILLIPS: By 1962, Rod had found his place in London's club scene. It was a heady time of change, both musically and politically. Rod took part in the Ban the Bomb Protest marches in London.

DON STEWART, BROTHER: He started being a bit of a beatnik. He used to go on marches doing God knows what. And he used to roam around the continent. And month -- and you know he'd come back in a hell of a state, run out of money. Dad would fly him the money and off he'd go again.

PHILLIPS: It was during this time that Rod began to sing in public. Two years later, Mod was the fashion and Rod's love of folk music developed into a love of rhythm and blues.

R. STEWART: The first band I was in was called Long John Baldry's Hoochie Coochie Men. And they were all old jazz musicians. And they could drink. So that was where I started drinking big time, you know, because you had to. I was only 19 and they were all in their 40s. It was a little drunk bash.

PHILLIPS: Rod played harmonica and sang with Baldry for two years but soon found himself drawn to the rock music that was exploding from London. A meeting with ex-Yardbird's guitarist, Jeff Beck, would open a new door.

The Jeff Beck Group took Rod Stewart to audiences across Europe and on to America where he created his on stage persona. Stewart also began to write his own songs, a mixture of blues, folk, rock and traditional melodies, splitting his time between writing and performing with the Jeff Beck Group.

R. STEWART: It was a great band to be in because Ronnie Wood and I became great friends, really good pals in those days. But it was good musicians. And when you're surrounded by good musicians, you're going to start singing great. And I learned a lot in those days.

PHILLIPS: But Beck's relationship with the band members was fractious and after two-and-a-half years, Stewart left the group.

What did last was Rod's friendship with guitarist, Ron Wood. In October of 1969, Wood and Stewart joined the band, The Faces, a move that would launch Stewart's career as a superstar.

LIGHT: The Faces were sort of the definitive bar band, kind of sloppy, you know, bashing it out rock n roll band.

PHILLIPS: Coming up, Stewart becomes a rock star and finds love with a famous actress.

LIGHT: There was then just this explosion of material coming from him. For seven years, Rod Stewart was simultaneously a solo artist and the lead singer in The Faces.

PHILLIPS: But a split in both his band and personal life will rock Rod's world.





STEWART: In the morning, don't say you love me...

PHILLIPS (voice-over): The Faces, live, loud and loaded.

R. STEWART: We were drunk all the time, you know. So I can't remember much about it. It was good fun though.

PHILLIPS: By 1970, Rod Stewart was the lead face in one of the most raucous rock 'n roll bands in the world.

TIM EWBANK, BIOGRAPHER: There's girls and cars and having a good time. They were very destructive on the road at times. They would trash hotel rooms willy-nilly.

PHILLIPS: But Stewart wasn't just the charismatic front man of The Faces in the early '70s. He was a double attraction, pursuing a simultaneous solo career, a solo career that in one song exploded beyond his wildest dreams.

R. STEWART: Wake up, Maggie, I think I got something to say to you...

PHILLIPS: "Maggie May" and the album, "Every Picture Tells a Story," made Rod Stewart an international sensation.

R. STEWART: It was a No. 1 album and it was a No. 1 single, so after that, everything changed, you know. I suddenly become overnight extremely wealthy.

PHILLIPS: Rich, famous, a rock 'n roll superstar. All Rod Stewart needed now was a gorgeous superstar girlfriend, enter actress, Britt Ekland.

PETER CASTRO, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He never met a blond he didn't like, so, you know, along comes Britt Ekland. OK, this is fun.

PHILLIPS: But unlike all those blonds before her, Ekland was famous in her own right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take care of the maintenance man.


PHILLIPS: She was a former Bond girl. She was also very astute to the trappings of celebrity.

EWBANK: I think she kept him at arms length for a while, and you know, to make sure that this wasn't just a passing fancy. But then they fell madly in love and it was a very highly volatile, highly sexual relationship.

PHILLIPS: And it was also a highly publicized relationship. Stewart and Ekland epitomized the rock superstar jetsetters of their time. And wherever they landed, crowds gathered and cameras flashed. Britt Ekland's arrival also marked a new phase in Rod's career, which included a permanent move to Los Angeles.

EWBANK: I think a lot of his fans saw her as the epitome of Hollywood. And they didn't like to see this North London lad with a feeling for the blues going Hollywood as it were and having the big rock star mansion and going to the Hollywood parties and so on.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's 1975 offering, "Atlantic Crossing..."

R. STEWART: I am sailing...

PHILLIPS: ... and the single, "Sailing," didn't help matters with the hard-core rock fans either. Both the album and the ballad were seen as pop departures meant to attract a wider, more mature audience. But Rod bounced back big with a night on the town...

R. STEWART: Tonight's the night...

PHILLIPS: ...and the sexually charged hit, "Tonight's The Night." Rod's ongoing and lucrative solo success, once viewed as a good thing within The Faces, was now a point of contention.

R. STEWART: Well a lot of people would think, oh, Rod left the group. Well, I actually he didn't. I left The Faces because Ronnie was going to join The Stones. We talked about it and that's where he wanted to go. And I believed him. I think I really deep down thought we'd taken The Faces as far as we could. So they were broke up.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's relationship with Britt Ekland was also beginning to show cracks. She had quickly become involved in almost every aspect of his life from his career to the way he dressed.

EWBANK: She had very good taste but at the same time she'd manipulated his career a bit and even in one album cover put him in a straw boater, which he absolutely loathed. And I think he was then ready to shake off all of that and start anew.

PHILLIPS: Stewart and Ekland stuck it out until 1978, a pivotal year personally and professionally.

R. STEWART: If you want my body and you think I'm sexy, come on...

PHILLIPS: "Do You Think I'm Sexy" was a worldwide phenomenon.

LIGHT: The thing to remember always when talking with "Do You Think I'm Sexy" is it was a really big hit. It also gave him a hit at a moment when a lot of rock stars were getting smashed by the popularity of disco.

PHILLIPS: For all its success, however, "Do You Think I'm Sexy" moved Rod's career farther away from rock and more toward pop. At the same time, his split from girlfriend, Britt Ekland, had become nasty. She filed a massive alimony suit against Stewart.

EWBANK: Britt sued for many millions. And I understand that the legal settlement was something in the region of $15 million.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's first intense, long-term relationship was over and popular music was changing. He was somewhat adrift. But it didn't take him long to find an anchor. Alana Hamilton was the ex-wife of actor, George Hamilton. She was a model, aspiring actress, and of course, blond. But she was also determined and outspoken, a surprising choice for Rod by many accounts. Even more surprising to family and friends was the couple's decision to wed.

EWBANK: I think he wanted to get married because he was mid-30s and I think he really thought that this -- you know, that this was the one.

PHILLIPS: One of rock's most confirmed bachelors tied the knot in April of 1979. Three months later, Stewart's daughter, Kimberly, was born. And a year after that came son, Sean. Rod struggled to balance his life as a husband, father, and superstar.

EWBANK: Rod found that very difficult to play the father, the doting father, because he's always been very, very good to his kids, and a very devoted father and yet live up to the image of this roistering rock star with this, you know, rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

PHILLIPS: Stewart's touring, his life style and new family quickly strained his marriage.

When our profile of Rod Stewart continues, it's another heartbreak, a few more blonds, a couple of comebacks, and one serious scare.

R. STEWART: It was a period where I didn't think I was going to sing again.





R. STEWART: Some guys have all the luck...

PHILLIPS (voice-over): While Rod Stewart was a fixture on MTV throughout the '80s with hit singles like "Some Guys Have All The Luck" and "Baby Jane," his music wandered between rock and pop.

LIGHT: He would go a little more rock and bring the guitars up and then go very straight pop and, you know, then there would be a hit every few years, there would be a "Passion."

R. STEWART: Even the president needs passion.

LIGHT: And there would be "Infatuation".

R. STEWART: Oh no, not again.

LIGHT: He could continue to tour. He was still famous. He was still a celebrity but it just didn't have that focus and that drive especially that defined that first decade of his career.

PHILLIPS: The pressures of his career on his five-year marriage to Alana Hamilton would prove too much. In 1984, they filed for divorce. Rod began dating again, and had a serious relationship with model, Kelly Emberg. The couple had a daughter, Ruby, in 1987, but would part ways two years later. In 1990, Rod met yet another blond, a young model from New Zealand, Rachel Hunter, and fell fast.

CASTRO: He was smitten with Rachel Hunter from the get go. I mean, who wouldn't be? She was gorgeous, "Sports Illustrated" model, statuesque, blonde, beautiful. And he was just taken and blown away by her.

PHILLIPS: On December 15, 1990, Rod walked down the aisle for a second time, marrying the 21-year-old model in Beverly Hills. Rod and Rachel would have two children together, a daughter, Renee, and son, Liam. Rod appeared to be growing up both in his personal life and his career. That next year, Stewart had his first top 10 album in a decade, "Vagabond Hearts."

R. STEWART: The rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum...

PHILLIPS: But by the late '90s, Stewart wasn't getting airplay and his eight-year marriage to Rachel Hunter began to unravel.

EWBANK: And I think she found it difficult simply being regarded -- although she had a great career as a model, as you know, Mrs. Rod Stewart. And I think she felt there was more to life than that. Eventually, she walked out on him and he was absolutely devastated.

PHILLIPS: Then in February of 2000, an even more devastating discovery. After a routine CAT scan, Stewart was diagnosed with cancer.

R. STEWART: They found a sort of lump on the thyroid gland but it was a very small lump and I was in and out of hospital in 24 hours. But it -- you know they cut me from here to here, so it really wrecked my voice for nine months. And there was a period when I didn't think I was going to sing again.

PHILLIPS: The surgery threatened to shatter his career.

R. STEWART: It was worrying, you know. I didn't know what I was going to do. This thing that I loved doing so much and it's obviously going to be taken away.

PHILLIPS: Stewart recovered but the veteran performer would have to learn to sing again.

R. STEWART: I had singing lessons again. So I just got the band together and we -- I'd just go in there every day and try to sing "Maggie May" or "Hot Legs." I'd really just strain it.

PHILLIPS: He would eventually regain his voice but regaining his popularity was a different story. Record sales slumped until 2002 when a collection of American standards breathed new life back into his career.

Rod has also found love again with British model, Penny Lancaster, a blonde, of course.

STEWART: I only know what I know...

PHILLIPS: It's been an amazing comeback for the music icon. Following the success of his platinum-selling "Great American Songbook," Stewart released his third collection of American standards, "Stardust," winning his first Grammy Award. And at 60, Rod Stewart is proving that blondes do have more fun.

R. STEWART: You know I can't do this forever. And I'm having this huge success right now and I might as well enjoy it. And I enjoy it by going out and touring, singing and one laugh and have a good time.

Lucky to be loving you.


ZAHN: Rod Stewart is currently on a sold-out tour of New Zealand and Australia. With a 17 city tour of North American scheduled for March.


SIMON: I know nothing stays the same...


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, after 30 years in music she's coming around again.


SIMON: ... it's coming around again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Carly Simon, from the heart when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.


ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

When it comes to singing the soundtrack of a generation, nobody does it better than Carly Simon. Not long ago the legendary singer sat down with me for a rare and candid interview. She was unflinching about everything from her troubled childhood and former lovers to her crippling stage fright and her battle with breast cancer.


C. SIMON: We can never know about the days to come...

ZAHN (voice-over): Like a sultry breeze, she blew onto the scene. It was the 1970s. At six feet tall, her legs wouldn't stop and her talent seemed almost as endless as her toothy grin, provocative, sensual, seductive. Her name was Carly Simon.

C. SIMON: Of course, I can't tell you everything about everyone that I was with.

ZAHN (on camera): Well, we only want to know about Mick Jagger and...

C. SIMON: You only want to know about the naughtier excursions.

You're so vain...

ZAHN (voice-over): One Oscar, two Grammys and three decades later, Carly Simon remains one of the greatest singer/songwriters in pop music history...

C. SIMON: ... I bet you think this song is about you...

ZAHN: ...a luminescent diva with a past that continues to intrigue.

(on camera): There is still so much mystery about who inspired the song, "You're So Vain." Are you amazed by the level of interest in that question?

C. SIMON: Yes. I'm amazed by it. And the only real thing that's mysterious is why it's still so interesting.

Nobody does it better.

ZAHN (voice-over): At 59 years old, her body of work reads more than 25 albums deep and last year, she came around again. On May 4, "Reflections," Carly Simon's Greatest Hits" was released. On it, 20 classics, most so recognizable they feel like old friends.

C. SIMON: Baby, you're the best. All those crazy nights... ZAHN: But the road to legend has certainly been paved with pain. A decade long marriage to singer James Taylor ended bitterly. Anxiety, depression and stage fright have haunted her for years.

C. SIMON: There are days that I'm so depressed and something can get to me, and that will bring me down so far. And I still don't understand how I can let myself sink so deep. But invariably, what helps me come out of it is music and my songs and my ability to compose myself out of it.

ZAHN (on camera): Do you think music has saved your life during some of these dark periods?

C. SIMON: Yes, I think music has definitely been my way through the dark periods.

ZAHN (voice-over): She was born Carly Elizabeth Simon on June 24, 1945 in New York City, the third of four children. Her mother, Andrea, was a housewife, her father, Richard, a legendary publisher.

C. SIMON: And I think it was my father's downfall to become the founder of Simon & Schuster. It sounds so ironic to say that because he was so successful, but the thing that he was greatest at was playing the piano.

ZAHN (voice-over): Country homes, trips to Paris, Monday nights at the Met. It was an artistic, affluent household filled with a who's who of luminary friends.

C. SIMON: George Gershwin came by our house the year that "Porgy and Bess" came out and he played songs for my mother and father.

JOANNA SIMON, SISTER: I do remember an incident where Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein were invited for dinner.

ZAHN: But in the midst of wealth and proper pedigree, Richard Simon's youngest daughter was different.

C. SIMON: Someday I'm going to grow up...

J. SIMON, SISTER: Little Carly Simon was always the funny one. She also was perhaps, of all the sisters, the most fragile emotionally.

ZAHN (on camera): I read a quote from a "Rolling Stone" interview you did way back in the '70s and you said, "I felt as if I always had to perform in order to get any love at all." What did you mean by that?

C. SIMON: I was daunted by my two older sisters, who were my father's favorites, and they were very beautiful and very talented.

ZAHN: You're sure of that? Definitely your father's favorites?

C. SIMON: Definitely.

She rides in the front seat. She's my older sister.

J. SIMON: It was problematic. My sister, Lucy, and I excelled in certain ways that appealed to my father. I think that she always was looking for a place in his heart, and trying to find it.

ZAHN (voice-over): By Carly's fifth birthday, she began to stutter. Her first anxiety attack came three years later.

C. SIMON: Very needy, very insecure, very afraid of going away from home, had tremendous trepidations about leaving my mother. I had such a bad stammer that I really couldn't talk. It would come out very -- it was like that.

ZAHN: Psychotherapy, medication, nothing stopped that stubborn stutter, until one day in 1955, Carly's mother devised an ingenious idea.

LUCY SIMON, SISTER: Our mother was extremely thoughtful and good about the stammering and, in fact, I think it was the stammer that started her singing because she didn't stammer while she was singing. So she had difficulty getting a sentence out or getting a word out. Our mother would say, "Sing it, Carly," and she could sing it.

C. SIMON: So that was a very important segue for me, was to learn that I could sing when I needed to communicate.

ZAHN: From pass the butter to hold the mustard, Carly Simon sang all day long. And as the years passed, the stammer slipped away, but so did the father and the love she so desperately wanted.

C. SIMON: He got sick when I was 10, and it was a shrouded mystery what was wrong with him. It made me start distrusting everything. And I felt that the only way I had to protect myself against his, you know, falling down dead was knocking on wood. The first time he was in the hospital, I knocked on wood a hundred times the first night that he was in the hospital, and he was alive the next day. And then the next night, I did it 500 times and he was better. And so I thought, well, I've got to keep doing it 500 times a night and I would always fall asleep knocking.

ZAHN: Five years later, in 1960, the knocking stopped. Carly was 15 years old when Richard Simon passed away.

L. SIMON: Carly Simon probably never fully believed that he, in fact, loved her as much as he loved Joy and me. There was always the lingering sense of that's unfinished and I have to get that from some place else.

ZAHN: Coming up, James Taylor and the downward spiral of rock's first royal couple.

And later, a clue in the mystery of "You're So Vain."

C. SIMON: The name of the person it was about had an "e" in it.

ZAHN (on camera): Oh, well, thank you, that's very helpful, Carly.

C. SIMON: Maybe I could disclose another letter.

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to just do one more pass.

C. SIMON: Just one more pass. Just the full harmony pass.


C. SIMON: The more I look for you, the more you are not there.

DECURTIS: When you listen to Carly Simon, you're hearing a very individual voice; you're hearing somebody speaking very directly out of her own experience.

C. SIMON: ... the more I search in vain.

Emotions are very big in me. And so, I can go from a place of feeling very impoverished to a place of extreme wealth.

... one and one is two.

ZAHN: Do you like living on the edge?

C. SIMON: It's the only way I've ever been able to do it.

...thanks so much for asking..


C. SIMON: OK, good, you'll hire me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really like it.

C. SIMON: To everything, turn, turn, turn...

ZAHN (voice-over): On March 7, 1964, 18-year-old Carly Simon and her sister, Lucy, appeared on the ABC variety hour, "Hootenanny". It had been just four years since the death of their father, Richard Simon. Immersing themselves in music, the siblings were now a duo and Carly was splitting her time between Sarah Lawrence and the stage.

C. SIMON: It was either go back to college or tour with Lucy. And Lucy and I had had a hit with the song that she wrote called "Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod." L. SIMON: And it was an absolutely charming song and Carly sang it with me and we realized that hey we're pretty good together. It was like No. 76 but it was No. 1 in San Francisco.

DECURTIS: The Simon sisters did not make much of a splash. I think when things settled down a bit and Carly was a little bit older and was able to, you know, really find what it was that she had to say, I think that's when things really started happening.

ZAHN: In 1968, with guitar in hand, Carly Simon set out on her own, New York secretary by day, sexy songbird by night. For four years, she shopped her music and searched for the perfect song.

My father sits at night with no lights on...

C. SIMON: I wrote the melody to "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" and that was kind of where I started writing and taking my compositions more seriously. And I started collaborating with Jake Brackman, who wrote the lyric.

But you say it's time we moved in together...

JACOB BRACKMAN, LYRICIST: That was a song that, you know, related in some ways to things that were less than perfect in her parents' marriage and maybe some anxieties that she might have, therefore, felt about making a decent life with a man.

ZAHN: In a season of change, Carly Simon had found her voice. Released in March 1971, that haunting ballad would become the breakthrough single on her self-titled debut.

C. SIMON: But you're a legend in your own time...

DECURTIS: Yes, "Weak" was the sexual revolution. And so for someone like Carly Simon, who is beautiful and talented and moving in a world in which she was meeting men like Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Khris Kristofferson, I think she was going to take advantage of those possibilities.

ZAHN: Eight months and a million albums later, album No. 2.

C. SIMON: Anticipation...

ZAHN (on camera): You created "Anticipation" in 15 minutes?

C. SIMON: Maybe an hour, but that's at the very outside. I was waiting for Cat Stevens to come over who was my date and I wrote -- I must not focus on 15 minutes from right now. I must focus on right now. These are the good old days.

ZAHN (voice-over): But Cat Stevens wasn't the only man catching her eye. There was another guy, and his name was James.

J. SIMON: I remember when Carly and I were living together, James' first album came out and on it you could open up the album and there was a full length picture of James laying down on the grass and Carly looked at him in that photograph and said, "I'm going to marry him."

ZAHN: Their romance would be one of the most photographed couplings in music history. And when the singer/songwriter James Taylor married Carly Simon on November 2, 1972, they were instantly proclaimed rock's first royal family.

(on camera): What did you remember about the good old days with James Taylor?

C. SIMON: Oh, gosh, we had some fine, fine moments.

ZAHN (voice-over): Days after the wedding, the mania went into overdrive. Carly's latest, "No Secrets," had just hit the shelf. On it, a mysterious single about an oh, so vain suitor. Who could it be? Three decade later, we are still scratching our heads.

C. SIMON: You walked into the party...

J. SIMON: Well, I always thought it was me. That's a family secret. And I am certainly not going to expose it.

ZAHN: But as the hits rolled in and the decade rolled on, cracks began to appear in the marriage. Dueling careers fueled battling egos and there was the matter of Taylor's drug use.

DECURTIS: James Taylor and Carly Simon were in the thick of everything that the '70s represented in terms of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll and certainly James. And James was a very serious heroin addict and alcoholic for a long time. It had an impact on his career and it had, certainly, an impact on his marriage with Carly Simon.

ZAHN: Numerous separations and reconciliations followed, but nothing could keep this rock 'n' roll union alive. In 1981, a divorce was finalized. James Taylor and Carly Simon were no more.

BEN TAYLOR, SON: I was never the kind of kid who wished every night or prayed that his parents would get back together. That didn't seem like -- it seemed logical to me, even at a very young age that they were splitting apart.

C. SIMON: I know nothing stays the same...

ZAHN: Next, the legendary ups and downs of Carly Simon.

(on camera): Were you afraid of dying?

C. SIMON: Yes, but no more so than I usually am.


C. SIMON: I do believe. I do believe. I believe in love.




C. SIMON: It happens every day. Two lovers...

ZAHN (voice-over): In 1981, a seismic split shook the halls of rock 'n' roll. Rock's first royal couple, Carly Simon and James Taylor, were calling it quits. Competition, coupled with Taylor's drug use, had divided them.

C. SIMON: Take a look around now...

BRACKMAN: And the punch line was that he cleaned up within months of their separation and has been clean to this day. It's a mystery but that made it even harder in a way.

C. SIMON: Try a new translation...

ZAHN: What has been the toughest challenge for you? Was it the period of time when you and James Taylor knew you weren't going to make it?

C. SIMON: Well, that period of time was very challenging because I was really swept up in the sadness and the brokenness. I lost a whole lot of weight. I was crying all the time. I wanted to be so many things that I couldn't be.

ZAHN (voice-over): Adrift, Carly's anxieties fueled her lifelong battle with stage fright. An early '80s concert tour was suddenly canceled when the pop star collapsed backstage.

C. SIMON: I was lost. I really was really lost.

ZAHN: But Carly Simon was far from over. In 1986, director Mike Nichols was in need of a theme song for his latest film, "Heartburn."

C. SIMON: I know nothing stays the same...

ZAHN: The superstar was about to "Come Around Again."

C. SIMON: It's coming around again.

ZAHN: Carly Simon was back. On a personal front, she was also in love, marrying poet, Jim Hart in December 1987, two years later, yet another milestone.

C. SIMON: Let the river run...

ZAHN: It was the feel-good movie of the year, and Carly's theme became the anthem of working girls everywhere. "Let The River Run" nabbed a Grammy, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar for Best Song.

(on camera): What did it mean to take home your first Oscar?

C. SIMON: It was ravishing. ZAHN (voice-over): On the highest of highs, she sailed into the '90s, but in 1994, a loss would send her once again into the darkness.

J. SIMON: She died at 5:00 in the morning, and I remember that Carly was alone with her for a few minutes and started to scream and started to shriek. It was like a moan for all eternity.

C. SIMON: Dear mother, the struggle is over now and your house is up for sale.

It was four days after she had died and I had read this poem about things flowing like a river. I thought about my mother and I thought I will wait no more for you.

... like a daughter, that part of our life together is over. But I will wait for you forever...



On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.