WHEN IS a king a queen? When it's Carole King, reigning queen of rock music.

In another era, the prolific composer-singer might have confined her vocals to lullabies, but today this lyrical lady is helping to restyle America's pop music scene with a new sound known as "soft rock."

The auburn-haired star has just completed her first tour of Continental Europe, which included stops at the Montreux Jazz Festival near Geneva, Munich, and Frankfurt. She is accompanied by her husband, bass-playing Charles Larkey, producer Lou Adler, and guitarist David T. Walker and his band.

King and troupe are scheduled to do two more shows in London before returning Stateside. Last year she made her British Isles concert debut with James Taylor, the man who won a Grammy by singing her composition "You've Got a Friend."

"Carole wants to avoid the `superstar' trip," said Adler, explaining the star's refusal to meet with the press.

Prior to the King concert at Frankfurt's Kongresshalle, Adler told The Stars and Stripes, "She's really very normal, but she finds it hard to understand the sudden interest in her, when she's been a successful songwriter for 10 years."

The millionaire recording executive, who owns Ode Records, said her husband also declines to give interviews. "Music is their bag, they just want to sing and play," he added.

Adler makes interesting news "copy" in his own right. He first found success as a songwriter in a partnership with Herb Alpert. He later promoted the Mamas and Papas recording stars, winning his first Grammy award for his production on one of the group's award-winning records.

Last year, he copped two additional Grammys for producing King's LP "Tapestry" and single "It's Too Late." He recently made news negotiating a six-figure deal for Ode's popular rock team Cheech and Chong to star in an upcoming Paramount picture.

After King's London engagements are wrapped-up, the bearded bachelor plans to join his current romantic interest, actress Faye Dunaway, in Spain, where she's filming "The Three Musketeers."

Despite her disdain for the "superstar" image, King is Ode's best record salesman and rock music's hottest female attraction. A few weeks ago in New York City, her open-air concert in Central Park drew some 200,000 music fans.

Last year, she not only won two Grammys for best single ("It's Too Late") and album ("Tapestry"), but received two more Grammys as best female vocalist for her artistry on "Tapestry" and as best songwriter for "You've Got a Friend."

Her newest LP "Fantasy" has been out less than a month and Billboard's pop record charts already list it as the sixth best-selling album in the U.S.

Adler said that King was particularly pleased at being invited to be the closing act at the annual Montreux music meet.

"The fact that it was a jazz festival really knocked her out," said the lanky producer.

She was first introduced into music circles by a former flame, Neil Sedaka, during the early 60s. Their romance encouraged the rock 'n' roller to write his million seller, "Oh, Carole."

In the last decade her tunes, including "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" "Smackwater Jack", "What Am I Gonna Do?" and "You've Got a Friend" turned to gold for artists such as the soulful Shirelles, country boy Bobby Bare, jazz man Quincy Jones and pop star Andy Williams.

A number of her 60s rock classics including "Locomotion," "A Natural Woman" and "Up On A Roof" were co-written with her ex-husband, Gerry Goffin. However, it was James Taylor who first prodded her to perform her own songs.

With further encouragement from Adler, Carole King has emerged as a crack record salesman of the 70s, with four smash LPs, "Rhymes and Reasons," "Tapestry," "Music" and now, "Fantasy."

Her music has also helped tear down the barriers against women on the rock scene. Although pop, soul and country circles have long welcomed distaff artists, its only been in recent years that rock has opened its doors to the women.

King, who picked up where the late Janis Joplin left off, has had an able assist from Grace Slick, Joni Mitchell, Dory Previn, and the all-girl rock band, Fanny, in exposing the myth that rock is, a man's world.

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