[Hpn] Fwd: Recapturing a Partnership That Was Lost;long lost soul singer, formerly homeless

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Thu, 19 Jul 2001 12:09:23 -0400


Below is a forward of an article about soul and blues performer Howard Tate, 
long assumed to be dead, who - as it turns out - had become homeless after 
experiencing a major family tragedy and then a divorce, is alive and well, 
became a church minister who has been helping people who are poor and 
homeless and, has returned to the music business to help pay for building a 
sanctuary for his ministry.

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont

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-------Forwarded article-------

Thursday, July 19, 2001
New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com>
[New York, New York]
Entertainment section
Recapturing a Partnership That Was Lost
<http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nyt/20010719/en/recapturing_a_partnership_that_was_lost_1.html>

By NEIL STRAUSS The New York Times

Three decades after a falling out, the working relationship and friendship 
between Jerry Ragovoy and Howard Tate has been rekindled.


For soul fans, the work of Jerry Ragovoy and Howard Tate holds its own 
against the best of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Joe Tex, thanks in part 
to Mr. Tate's melting falsetto and Mr. Ragovoy's mix of classic gospel and 
pop orchestration.

Together, the pair recorded one of the most emotionally powerful, impeccably 
arranged soul albums of the 1960's, "Get It While You Can" (Verve). Then, 
after a falling out, they stopped collaborating, and Mr. Tate disappeared. 
Mr. Ragovoy continued to write and produce songs, but they didn't sound 
right to him.

"The problem was that I still had Howard's voice in my head," he said. He 
needed to find his old partner, and he began a search that lasted more than 
10 years.

After all, it had been when Mr. Ragovoy met Mr. Tate that his songs seemed 
to unfold in directions he had never imagined. Similarly, Mr. Tate had known 
he was born with a talent for singing, but it wasn't until he began working 
with Mr. Ragovoy that he learned how to control and exploit that talent for 
maximum emotional effect. Though Mr. Ragovoy had already been the writer or 
cowriter of hits for the Majors, Garnet Mimms and Lorraine Ellison in 
addition to future classic-rock hits like "Piece of My Heart" and "Time Is 
on My Side," it was his collaboration with Mr. Tate that haunted him most.

"I looked everywhere for him," Mr. Ragovoy said. "I checked all his old 
haunts and called anyone who used to know him. But no one knew where he 
was." Two years ago, Mr. Ragovoy stopped looking: he had given Mr. Tate up 
for dead.

He wasn't the only person searching for a ghost. Mr. Tate had left an 
enormous legacy behind: he had recorded three top-20 rhythm-and-blues hits, 
and songs from his albums had been covered by Janis Joplin ("Get It While 
You Can"), Jimi Hendrix ("Stop"), B. B. King ("Ain't Nobody Home") and Ry 
Cooder ("Look at Granny Run Run," a song later sampled by the rap group 
Brand Nubian). As Mr. Tate's albums were rediscovered in the 90's, concert 
promoters, record labels and journalists tried to hunt him down. Most came 
to the same conclusion Mr. Ragovoy had reached. In a 1995 reissue of Mr. 
Tate's Verve sessions, the liner notes stated that the soul singer was 
probably dead.

But then a purchasing agent for a Philadelphia-area public housing authority 
entered the hunt. His name was Phil Casden, and every Saturday afternoon he 
gave vent to his soul, blues and rhythm-and-blues obsession with a radio 
show on the New Jersey station WNJC-AM.

"If you can listen to `Get It While You Can' or `Learned It All the Hard 
Way' and not be emotionally moved," Mr. Casden said of Mr. Tate's hits, 
"then you'd better check your batteries, because you may be dead."

Mr. Casden had read the Verve liner notes and a few articles on Mr. Tate 
that described the singer as missing and presumed dead. He also learned that 
Mr. Tate was from Philadelphia and decided that the singer must still have 
relatives or friends within range of his broadcasts. So every time he played 
a song by Mr. Tate, Mr. Casden would preface or follow it with a plea for 
information on the singer.

"It wasn't sufficient to leave a story like that open- ended," Mr. Casden 
said. "I had to find out: `Is the guy alive? Is he dead?' There had to be 
something more than, `He just rode off into the sunset.' "

A few months ago, the phone call came: Ron Kennedy, a former singer with 
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, had bumped into Mr. Tate in a supermarket 
and exchanged phone numbers with him. Mr. Tate was alive and well, working 
as a minister to a small South Jersey congregation that held services in 
members' homes.

Mr. Kennedy put the D.J. in touch with Mr. Tate, who had no idea that anyone 
was still listening to his music. Even his congregation didn't know he was a 
soul legend. Mr. Casden posted his discovery in an Internet newsgroup 
dedicated to soul music, and the word was out. The D.J. even found a lawyer 
to help Mr. Tate receive the money he should have been getting all along for 
reissues of his music.

Oblivious to this activity, Mr. Ragovoy received a phone call from a 
journalist working with a small British blues magazine. Mr. Ragovoy remarked 
that it was odd that anyone would want to write an in-depth piece about Mr. 
Tate after all these years, and the journalist replied that Mr. Tate had a 
dedicated following overseas.

"I've spent years trying to find him," Mr. Ragovoy told the journalist.

"I spoke to him yesterday," the writer said.

And so, after 29 years, a great working relationship and friendship was 
rekindled. Mr. Ragovoy called Mr. Tate and arranged a meeting in Manhattan.

"I wanted to see him face to face to see if he was O.K.," Mr. Ragovoy said. 
"But I also wanted to verify that he could still sing. I could tell just by 
his speaking voice that the strength was still there."

Mr. Ragovoy was excited to discover that there was no significant change in 
his former partner's voice. "It's a slight bit huskier," he said. "But other 
than that, the tonality, the sonority, the falsetto all that is still 
there."

Speaking by telephone from his home in Mount Holly, N.J., Mr. Tate was 
equally enthusiastic. "The only thing that persuaded me to come back again 
was Jerry Ragovoy," he said. "We go together like hand and glove."

Mr. Tate plans to release a new album, which he has started recording with 
Mr. Ragovoy, and to begin performing more regularly. His first show in 
Manhattan in nearly 30 years (since an early 70's Apollo bill with B. B. 
King and the Temptations) is scheduled for Saturday night at the Village 
Underground.

"I didn't realize that we had become almost like a legend all over the 
world," Mr. Tate said. "When they found me, they sent me all kinds of 
literature and overseas writing. I really didn't know that my music had held 
up over all these years."

Mr. Tate said that he started to get bad feelings about the music business 
when he was recording for the singer Lloyd Price's label Turntable and 
performing at Mr. Price's club, also named the Turntable, in Times Square. 
Outside the Turntable one night, Mr. Price's manager, Harold Logan, was 
murdered.

"When Harold got killed, I said, `That's enough for me,' " Mr. Tate said. 
"On top of that, I wasn't getting record royalties. So I became a securities 
dealer with Prudential."

After his 13-year-old daughter died in a house fire in the mid-70's and he 
divorced his wife of two decades in 1981, Mr. Tate went into a downward 
spiral and wandered the streets homeless. Then one day in 1994, as he was 
slowly putting his life back together, he was on his knees praying and, he 
said, "I had an experience of God."

"He spoke to me," Mr. Tate said.

And so Mr. Tate became a minister, just like his father was, and dedicated 
his time to helping the poor and homeless. This is the other reason Mr. Tate 
has returned to secular music-making: he says he needs $5 million to build a 
sanctuary for his ministry and figures a new album is the quickest way to 
raise it.

"It's better than anything we've done," he said of his new material. "If 
it's not top-10 material, I'll stop singing for good."

As for Mr. Casden, having helped rebuild an old friendship between the 
producer and the singer is a highlight of his life. "From a fan's 
standpoint," he said, "it's like striking up a friendship with George and 
Ringo and getting them to talk to Paul again."

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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