James Taylor Online 20th Anniversary

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Today the James Taylor Online web site celebrates 20 years online! JTO was inauspiciously launched February 21, 1994, and while many things have come and gone on the Internet since then, thankfully JT and his devoted fans have not. Whether you’ve been here from the beginning or found the site today, thank you so much for being a part of our little community.

— Joel Risberg, JTO Webmaster

Anniversary Guestbook

As is customary on these special occasions, some beloved friends of JTO were kind enough to share their best wishes.

James Taylor

Arnold McCuller

Kate Markowitz

Kate Markowitz Kissy Face 2013

Congratulations, Joel Risberg, on the 20th anniversary of JTO! Thank you for the fun facts, the articles, the online chats, and the longtime support of James, and his band. Thanks also to Laura Stegman for the great interview, and to Joel for the online chats and for other assistance over the years. It’s meant a great deal to all of us who have worked with James for so long. And, finally…thanks so much to the fans! We hope you love us as much as we love you. Please come and see us on the road this summer, and keep checking in with JTO!
P.S. Huge thanks to James Taylor, I’m just another fan.

xxoo — Kate Markowitz

Timeline

James Taylor Online has done quite a bit of growing up in 20 years. Below you’ll find a timeline of the site’s various incarnations and milestones. Much of the information within the archived pages is now outdated and many of the links are now non-functional, but with that in mind read on…

  • November 17, 1993 – My simple Usenet posting gets the ball rolling for alt.music.james-taylor, a newsgroup focusing on James Taylor. Usenet is now mostly just a fond memory, but at the time it was the primary method of discussion on the net. I was an undergraduate at Florida State University at the time and the Internet was still largely populated by university students, researchers, and technology professionals.
  • December 1993 – Discussion in the newsgroup grows steadily and I begin work on an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), which is the Usenet standard of collecting information with the idea that it will head off having the same questions asked over and over as new readers arrive. The first public version of the FAQ wasn’t much to look at.
  • February 21, 1994 – The nascent world wide web is too much to resist, so I work up a none-too-impressive page about JT. The first version of James Taylor Online is announced via this Usenet posting. At the time the site is hosted in my student account at Florida State. See the archived version.
  • June 1995 – A big fan of the web site HotWired (an offshoot of Wired magazine), I send them an unsolicited article about my experiences launching the JT newsgroup and web site. They like it enough to publish it and later hire me to write for their site.
  • Early 1997 – JTO gets a seemingly Halloween-inspired redesign and navigation is moved to frames. See the archived version. It’s also around this time that the site moves to the domain name james-taylor.com, which I first borrowed from the original owner and later bought outright.
  • May 1997 – The site gets its first web-based discussion forum.
  • December 1997 – News is now front and center and the site logo gets its first holiday-themed makeover. See the archived version.
  • January 1999 – The frames are gone, never to return. See the archived version
  • April 1999 – The color scheme changes to black on white along with the now-ubiquitous JTO shade of red called firebrick. There’s also a new focus on shameless marketing of JT’s CDs and videos. See the archived version.
  • March 2003 – The Forum gets a modern makeover.
  • February 21, 2004 – JTO celebrates its 10th anniversary.
  • June 2011 – The site’s popular Forum gets an upgrade from Ikonboard to the more modern phpBB system.
  • December 2011 – JTO re-launches using the popular WordPress content management system, which offers loads of new features and replaces a hodge-podge of hacks and cobbled-together tools added to the site over the years. Around the same time the chat room is retired, but the venerable Forum remains.
  • February 21, 2014 – JTO celebrates its 20th anniversary. Thanks for being a part of it.

| Posted 20 February 2014 by Joel | 37 comments

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Comments (37)

  1. Avatar image

    Congratulations on a job well done! I can appreciate your efforts much more now that I’ve constructed a makeshift web site inspired by JTO. Your longevity and perpetual stream of viewers reflects on the sites merit. Best wishes for another 20+ years!

  2. Thanks for all the great work you have been doing for all those years! It’s been great being part of this community (for about 10 years already, time’s going so fast). This spot you created online it the "place to be" for any good/fun/serious/…. discussion on JT-related matters.

    It’s the best only community I have ever been part of, and it wouldn’t have been there without you Joel. My own website, inspired by yours, will (and should be) always overshadowed by JTO.

    So congratulations Joel and fellow JTOers ! :) Best wishes for the coming 20 years!

    Best,
    Erik

    p.s. great to see James’ and Arnold’s messages!

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    ROFLMAO…I heard JAMES TAYLOR say SHITE..well, you know……..too funny!!!!

    Joel, congratulations. This is really cool, love it!!! I’ve met so many really,really cool people through your site. Heck, I got to go to SCOTLAND because your UK members were encouraging me to come on…so I did. That was 10 years ago this summer,and because of you. Thanks.

  4. Honoured to be part of some of the original JTO’ers… Met some wonderful human specimens through this site… Thank you Joel and thank you James for helping to keep me alive…. X PoshSue

  5. I have many happy and unhappy memories of JTO but as the man says, gotta take my hat off to you Joel Risberg – well done on your 20th birthday! Keep on keepin’ on ;)

  6. James Taylor once said "Shit" to me. He asked where I had travelled from to see him, told him how far that was, and he said "Shit".

    That is all.

    Congrats and thanks Joel. I think I have been around in one guise or another since 1995 – my then girlfriend – now wife – used to talk to each other on the JTO messenger when we were at Uni.

    Shawn

  7. Congratulation and many thanks to you, Joel. I went from an uniformed JT fan to one who, through discovering this site, has been able to have some of the best experiences of my life.

    I loved his music in college, then went through many years raising kids and caring for elderly parents when concerts, or really anything social, was not happening for me in the busy-ness of life. Then James came to my Alma Mater when I was still living in that town. My friend and I went to see him, must have been around 1990. Fantastic time. Then another long drought of fun..lots of responsibilities. We eventually moved to within an hour of DC and I remember reading a review years later about his concert. I was so disappointed as I hadn’t known he was playing nearby.. Then a few years later, I heard he was coming. I had broken my leg/ankle and was in a difficult time trying to care for a one year old granddaughter and couldn’t walk. I thought..I don’t know what shape I’ll be in by concert time a few months later, but I’m going somehow.I got tix for a handicapped seat and ended up in the front row side section. I was in a wheelchair right in front of Arnold. Little did I know how lucky I was, and how difficult it was to get front row seats in the following years.I was hooked on the JT experience and was on the lookout every year for news of a concert..without the aid of JTO, which I didn’t know existed.

    !Fast forward a few years. I was dropping my daughter off at her job at a restaurant, and there was a huge tour bus parked in the lot. It said LT on the side. I was trying to figure out what artist had the initials "LT". I thought of having heard of a Livingston Taylor, but wasn’t sure if he was a brother of James, possibly son..knew there might be a connection but was clueless back then.THE NEXT DAY in the paper there was a write-up about Livingston as he was performing at a college in my city!! That was quite a coincidence and a kind of creepy esp moment!(NO..wasn’t his bus.) I went to see him and became a huge fan. Saw Liv again in Charlottesville and met a woman while waiting in line. It was Cowgirl. She told me about JTO. Once I discovered this place I was never in the dark again about concerts, etc.We have kept in touch, and even met up for a JT concert.

    I would peruse JTO but never signed up. I didn’t even have an email.address. One day our computer went down during chatter about a possible tour. I remember going to the library to use the computer and seeing a comment from Pat about a password. I was desperate to communicate. I went back to the library the next day to use the computer and found out tix were going on sale. I rushed over to the librarian in a frenzy about getting an email set up. She helped me do that. She must have thought I was nuts, being in such a desperate rush while she was dong it. (Hence the dumb name of forever fan..everything else we tried was taken!). I knew I had to get it done to get in on tickets the next day. Once I was able to post, I asked if anyone would be heading up 95 to go to the concert. Pat answered and invited me to join her group for dinner. That didn’t work out as we ended up with tix for different nights….One Man Band Tour, I think, but from that time on Pat and I got to know each other and eventually met and have continued to go to some concerts together..James and others.

    Through Pat I met Carolyne.. Got to share The Troubadour Tour experience with these wonderful ladies!! We are still in touch.

    Being a part of this community has truly enriched my life as I have met such lovely people and have been able to share fun times with them. It has been fantastic to know about every event and news item regarding James and his appearances..and am so looking forward to the fan presale for this tour. I truly mean this when I say it, Joel, thanks to you I started treating myself to some fun after taking care of others my whole adult life. I’m not sure that I would have had any of these experiences (maybe not even an email..ha!!) if I hadn’t discovered JTO. So..your efforts go way beyond just providing info..you have helped establish friendships and life-changing experiences far beyond what you might even realize. Thanks.to .Cowgirl for making me aware of it’s existence. Thanks, Joel for keeping us informed, and thanks to the people here.. those I have met, and those I haven’t..it’s been fun!! And thanks to James…for being…and for your video of thanks..cool!

  8. Nicely put, forever fan. May I just add my congratulations to Joel and sincere thanks for providing this outlet. The older I get, the more I relish the opportunity to indulge my inner teenager and share my unabashed geekhood with fellow JT fans. Unless you are one, it’s not something that your average coworker, neighbor or even best buddy gets. JTO allows us to gush ad nauseum, pick each other’s brains about concerts and performances, and get the jump on all-important news before it hits the mainstream. Here’s hoping James, Joel and the JTOers are all around 20 years from now to celebrate the 40th!

  9. Thanks., Dorp,..too long (as always), but feeling sentimental and grateful, and realizing that there are fewer concert years ahead than behind many of us. Who knows how many more tours are in our future.? No doubt, he will outlast me with his stamina, but in reality no one knows what lies ahead as far as the ability to get there, even if he does!!

    Realizing I was writing too much, I cut my mention of Carolyne short You are one special person Miss Carolyne. Before we ever even met, you sent the most special gift to me and have continued your sweet thoughtful ways ever since. I value your friendship, even though we rarely get to see each other. Then I met you and Pat for the first time at Liv’s concert,, and then..The Troubadour Tour together. You both are a gift..one I would never have had if not for JTO!!

    One more thing as far as inside info because of JTO. It is here that I learned that he signs autographs at the end of intermission at the stage. Seems odd to think that at my second concert in the wheelchair, when I was in the front row, I had no clue. In fact, we returned to our seats after the second half started (long story..but my friend who was pushing me almost lost control as we went down the ramp to our seats..almost made a grand disturbance..like crashing into the front wall at the stage while he was singing!)..so I totally missed out on that opportunity the only time I was in a front row "seat". Many concerts and autographs later, I thank you all here for that valuable info!!

  10. Avatar image

    I haven’t checked in here for ages, though Our Revered Webmaster whomps me at Words With Friends regularly. Some of my earliest internet memories are of this place, and the wonderful community. Thanks for carrying on, Joel!

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    Congrats and thank you, Joel, for being my very first chatroom I ever visited, for being there for me through some rough times and for giving me so many friends all over the world!!! Keep on keepin’ on. Love you!!!

  12. It must be about fifteen or sixteen years since I discovered JTO, and I still recall my excitement and delight at finding like-minded people with stories to share, opinions to express and an eagerness to discuss all things James Taylor.

    Serious debates in the forum, hysterics in the chat room, new photos in the gallery, live online chats and in-depth interviews with members of JT’s band, newsletters with all the latest tour information and meeting and getting to know some really lovely people are just a few of the benefits that have come my way over the years.

    So, Joel, many congratulations and a huge and heartfelt ‘thank you’ for everything! :D

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    Congratulations Joel, you trailblazer you!

    It’s fascinating to read the history of JTO, especially the early Usenet postings. I came about the time you moved to frames in 1997 and JTO really took a hold on me during the OMB tour days of 2006. I’ve always counted on this community to be knowledgeable, helpful and passionate. Joel, your vision and willngness to offer the space is what made that happen.

    I met some wonderful friends from all over the world right here. Some of the best times of my life have been hearing James Taylor live with those same friends. None of that would have happened without JTO. Cheers!

  14. Avatar image

    One thing I failed to mention is how grateful I am to Joel for all the times he came to my rescue about technical issues. He was patient,and kind,and quick to respond. Even when I was taking web design in college, he helped me when I needed it.

    So thank you again, Joel, for all you do.

  15. Thank you a million times over, Joel. Happy 20th Anniversary JTO and congratulations to Joel for your loving persistent efforts in keeping us ardent James Taylor Fans happy and connected over the years. I well remember those early days and how you and a few other techies kept us connected with your patient advice. I remember marveling at the Global reach this site had all those years ago when cyber connections had hardly even begun. Nowadays, no one gives it a second thought. I remember well the amazement and excitement at the instantaneous, with a simple touch of a keyboard before computers were as prevalent as now, connecting with someone far away in Saudi Arabia, Europe, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philipines, Japan, to indulge in our deep love of James Taylor music, its profoundly meaningful influences and all things pertaining to James Taylor, his stellar Band and other cohorts who have come together over his long and extremely successful career to bring his music to us – recorded and live. The more we discovered the more our love grew.

    It is also thanks to this site Joel, that we have been able to reach out to each other worldwide and make some fast and true friendships, bonding online and in many cases from meeting at concerts. I even got to meet you personally years ago at your old home in Southern California. There you had just acquired a new gizmo – and amongst chips and dips, you hooked it up to the computer and we had one of our first online video chats – maybe that was the only one we ever had. It is also thanks to you Joel and your early support and watching out for us in those early days of following concerts worldwide that you gave me my first personal introduction to James Taylor Band members and to James Taylor the man himself and with it the formation of some great heartwarming friendships too. Wonderful memories your site has given us, too numerous to recount here and the joy it has given brings tears welling, so I better stop, but with more heartfelt gratitude, Joel for bringing this fantastic site into our lives. May the goodness it has given us return to you a thousand fold.

    With huge love to Joel, James Taylor & Band family and to all you crazy JT Lovin’ fans

    “Live Long and Prosper”

    Alohas,

    Tee xo

  16. Congratulations, Joel. So hard to believe this place is 20 years old!

    This site has been so valuable to James’ dedicated fans over the years. It was a place to find out where James was playing and when tickets were going on sale (long before he got his own site up and running). It was a place to make friends and share thought with people who also love his music. Looking at the comments here, I see people who’ve become real-world friends and concert buddies (Tee, Bridget, Carolyne) because we met at JTO meet ups at concerts. Others (Hello, Kathleen! So nice to see you!) are virtual friends.

    Thanks so much for all you’ve done for this community.

    helen

  17. Well, Joel, that YoubeTube video—-it doesn’t get any cooler than that! Congratulations and thanks. This site was one of the first things I discovered online. (Natch—-what is the first thing any of us would search for besides JT?). The forum was invaluable to me when I was an internet DJ at RadioWoodstock.com—-it helped me build the majority of the audience we had. And ANY JT-related question can be answered here. You’re a pioneer, Joel—–and how lucky JT and his fans are to have you! JT tips his hat—-I raise my glass.

  18. Congratulations, Joel, on a job well done! I’ve enjoyed this website immensely! I’m not positive how long it’s been since my daughter discovered it and signed me up for your newsletters, but I know it’s been at least 16 years! Thanks for all you’ve done for JT’s biggest fans!

  19. Avatar image

    Oh the memories- all of the friends popping up! It makes me a little teary eyed! Lyr, Barb, Tee, TexMark, Ree, Helen… and I know there are more that I’m forgetting here (ah, old age… such a pleasure).

  20. Kathleen wrote:Oh the memories- all of the friends popping up! It makes me a little teary eyed! Lyr, Barb, Tee, TexMark, Ree, Helen… and I know there are more that I’m forgetting here (ah, old age… such a pleasure).

    I agree, it’s lovely to see all the names from earlier years reappearing here. You should visit more often! Some of you will have known me as Loxley in those days.

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    Happy 20th Anniversary JTO! Congratulations Joel, and thank you for this wonderful site. I’ve made lots of new friends here and met even my wife through JTO back in ’99.

    Thanks for everything! Cheers!

    Claus (CC)

  22. Joel many congratulations on this wonderful milestone. J T O has been part of our lives for such a long time. It was wonderful to find this site and link up with so many like minded people. Thanks to you I have connected with some lovely people, travelled the world following our favourite singer. I remember fondly sitting in front of my old computer connecting by modem, hoping for a connection, eager to get on line. The chat room was the place to be, Sunday evening always being the highlight! We would chat into the early hours, nicknames giving way to real names and friendships.
    As JT says the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time’ there is no doubt we have all enjoyed our time here. So nice to see some of the original posters back here.
    Let’s not forget the reason we come here , we are all members of the NO family.

  23. Congratulations Joel on this 20th Anniversary of this wonderful site. It has meant so much to check in here periodically to get all the updates and news and also to connect with other JTO ‘ers. The connection to others who share this passion we have of all things JT is fantastic.

    Here’s to the next 20 years and love to everyone on here.

    Roll on the summer and nearer to seeing and hearing James live.

  24. Congrats and a huge thank you to Joel! What a cool video from JT. (Little late here–just got back from NYC)

    I found out about this site in 94 or 95. I had been working at my brother’s start up computer company as an office mgr and they hired a young college grad named Alex. One day we were talking music and discovered that we were both James Taylor biggest fans. He knew so much about him and had been to many JT shows. I was impressed. Then, he showed me JTO. Even though I worked at the computer company–I didn’t know much at all about computers. I was in heaven seeing this site. I don’t know if I joined right away or just read here for awhile. The whole forum thing was new to me. I do know I have rejoined the site a couple times after my various computer crashes. I couldn’t remember what email I signed up with and passwords etc.

    I have been in love with James and his music since I was 13. My first JT concert was Merriweather in 76 (later learned that Pat was there as well) I remember thinking at the show that he sounded even better in person than on a record. I found out during intermission that others thought the same as everybody was talking about it. I was mesmerized. I saw the Flag tour at Berkeley during my college yrs. Told the story here before–but what a show.!! I met him afterwards and just giggled. Couldn’t believe how tall he was (I’m 5’1") and so handsome.

    I have been very lucky to see James quite a bit over the years. Share my experiences here with other fans has been great. And to hear about all the JTOers experiences even better. I’ve never been the most prolific poster. However, I do remember one post I wrote that caused some excitement. I read here that JT’s Christmas album was coming out at Hallmark. I just couldn’t wait for the on sale date and went down early to try and get it. They said it just arrived–still in the box–and not available for purchase until official date. I bugged them for an hour until I left that store with the cd. I came here and worte about it–and there was such a big response from the JT community at JTO. It was so cool. I think I had quite a few people head over to Hallmark early lol

    I have had the great pleasure of meeting Pat, Forever Fan and Carolyne. My memories of the Troubadour tour mean so much to me. And sitting with FF at the sound check–the whole thing was amazing! That would never have happened if not for JTO.

    I would like to thank Barb too> She’s been such a great contributor to JTO and we chat on FB. There are others like Tee and Erik and just everybody–you have all given me a lot of joy!

    Anyway, I’m so grateful to Joel for all his hard work on this site! The next 20yrs are gonna be even better!!

  25. In my previous post there was a big NO……please excuse this typo!!!! As I said we have come a long way from our bulky home computers and are now using small hand held devices……it is obvious that I am still not that great when dealing with new technology….hopefully you all got the message.

  26. Haha I wondered about that liz!

  27. Avatar image

    by liz » Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:38 am, by liz » Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:53 pm
    "In my previous post there was a big NO…….please excuse this typo!"

    Liz, I think you can log in and edit that ~

  28. Congrats Joel, here’s to JTO!

    What fun. what memories, what great people on his site. Too many to mention. Hope to catch up with some JTOers soon … at their wedding party …

    Tailgaite parties, hogmanay sing alongs in the motel room, late night parties, cross country treks, pre-concert meet ups, online chats and chords swaps … only on JTO.

    Loved JT’s video, true to form.

    Lots of love to all from a windy Edinburgh,
    Sabine

  29. I would like to join everyone in congratulating Joel on this wonderful anniversary. I discovered this site in 1998. It’s been a valuable source of information ever since. Much more than that: JTO has turned out to be one of the rare places in cyberspace where contacts have turned into real-life friendships very close to our hearts now. May it continue for a long time.

    Harald

  30. I remember hearing a sample of JT’s version of "For Free" on this site about 1996 or so….I’ve been hooked ever since. Thank you.

  31. Avatar image

    Ahhh JTO. This is the second site I searched for first time I got online back in 94/95. I went to the Sony site first but it was clearly not ‘operational’. This site popped up next and I’ve never left. :D ANYthing you wanted to know about James Vernon Taylor could be found here-if Joel hadnt already posted or couldnt find out then the other wonderful posters could! I fell in love w JT & his music back in ’69, still have many of his albums, and all cd’s but Hourglass. I’ve seen JT probably a dozen or more times, and hoping to see him a dozen more. The hours spent in chat ‘back in the day’ felt like going home. I never dreamed there were so many ppl felt the way I do! We discussed his lyrics, his music, HIM… what did he MEAN by that lyric??? Lamp? Lamb? Wha….? Slowly we grew to know & care for soo many like-minded ppl from ALL over this world. THAT was incredible to me. To sit in chat and visit with folks from all over the states, Holland, Germany, Australia, Scotland, incredible. Even Arno came to chat a few times-how cool was that?! I’ve been so lucky to get to meet some of the chatters in person and generally felt like I’d known them forever. FLMM, Loraine, Sabi, Dutchy, TBones, Bat, Seeker, Barb, Deb, Glenn, the list goes on. Raised my daughter and now raising my 2 grandsons on his music. Last summer, Ethan (oldest Grandson asked upon getting into my car, Memaw does your car radio play ANYthing but James Taylor?? ;)

    THANK you Joel for all you do for all things JT. Thank you JT for doing what you do. Thank you JTOers, for just being yourselves.

    ~Arkie

    ……now, about this upcoming tour, has there been any mention of the ‘new material’? ;) Is he coming to Memphis or LR?????

  32. Avatar image

    Can still remember the first time I found my way to this site: it felt like a miracle to have the opportunity to get in touch with james’ world

    i met good, lifetime friends here, like fabulous Tee, and a new brother : Rkiel.

    Thank you

  33. Avatar image


    ……now, about this upcoming tour, has there been any mention of the ‘new material’?


    Hi Arkie. That’s an excellent question.

    Everything I’ve seen advertising the U.S. concert dates refers to James Taylor and his All-Star Band playing his "Greatest Hits".

    ( Just noticed it’s your birthday Joel — Happy Birthday!!! )

  34. Avatar image

    hi to everyone …don,t get here as often as i used to hard to beleive all these years have passed since i first found jto ..made some good friends and had great times in chat love to everyone …will see jt october at moterpoint cardiff wales

  35. Avatar image

    Haven’t stopped by in a while (lost PW), but still a big Taylor Family Fan, so congrats to Joel and the regulars for keeping this place moving along. There’s a great core of fans here and it’s always nice to stop by and see familiar screen names.

  36. Avatar image

    Congratulations, Joel. What a lovely ride it’s been,too. Love these videos, and I think it’s beautiful that James took the time to thank you this way, as well as Arnold. You ARE appreciated.

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