Sony Music EntertainmentValerie Carter, a singer/songwriter best known for her work as a backing vocalist for such artists as James Taylor, Little Feat and Linda Ronstadt, died Friday at the age of 64 of a heart attack in St. Petersburg, Florida, her older sister Janice told the Tampa Bay Times.
Carter appeared on several Taylor albums, and in addition to working with Ronstadt and Little Feat, also lent her vocal talents to recordings by Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Ringo Starr, Neil Diamond, Glenn Frey, Eddie Money, Diana Ross and many others. She co-wrote a song titled “Love Needs a Heart” with Browne and Little Feat’s Lowell George, that appeared on Jackson’s 1977 album Running on Empty.
Also in 1977, Carter released the first of her four solo albums, Just a Stone’s Throw Away, which featured guest appearances by Browne, Ronstadt, Earth, Wind & Fire‘s Maurice White and members of Little Feat. The album included a cover of the Five Stairsteps hit “O-o-h Child” that was featured in the 1979 cult film Over the Edge, which starred a teenage Matt Dillon.
Janice Carter told the Tampa Bay Times that her sister was more comfortable being a backup singer, noting, “She didn’t feel deserving of adoration. She never felt like a big star.”
Valerie remained close with Taylor, and in 2009, after she was arrested on drug charges, he paid for her three-month stay in a Texas rehab facility.
Following her death, Taylor penned a tribute to Carter that he posted on his official Facebook page. “Her voice came from her life and her life was a steep, rocky road,” James wrote. “We were the lucky ones, who worked (played) with Valerie Carter over the long arc of her creative career; we got the best of her love.”
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