Gerry Goffin, Carole King’s writing partner and ex-husband, dead at 75
Lyricist Gerry Goffin, who with his then-wife and songwriting partner Carole King wrote such 1960s hits as Will You Love Me Tomorrow and Natural Woman, has died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 75.
He and King also were behind Halfway to Paradise and The Loco-Motion.
His wife, Michelle Goffin, says he died Wednesday of natural causes.
Goffin married King in 1959 while they were in their teens. He penned more than 50 top 40 hits, including Pleasant Valley Sunday for the Monkees, Crying in the Rain by the Everly Brothers, Take Good Care of My Baby by Bobby Vee and You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor.
King said in a statement that Goffin was her “first love” and had a “profound impact” on her life.
“Gerry was a good man with a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come,” King said. “His legacy to me is our two daughters, four grandchildren, and our songs that have touched millions and millions of people, as well as a lifelong friendship.”
The Goffin-King love affair is the subject of the Tony Award-nominated musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. King, while backing the project, had avoided seeing it for months because it dredged up sad memories. She finally sat through it in April.
The musical shows the two composing their songs at Aldon Music, the Brill Building publishing company in Manhattan that also employed Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield and Carole Bayer Sager. The show ends just as King is enjoying fame for her groundbreaking solo album Tapestry. It also alleges Goffin’s womanizing and depression were causes of the breakup.
After their divorce, Goffin garnered an Academy Award nomination with Michael Masser for the theme to the 1975 film Mahogany for Diana Ross. He also earned a Golden Globe nomination for So Sad the Song in 1977 from the film Pipe Dreams.
Goffin and King were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years later.
Goffin was born in Brooklyn in 1939 and was working as a chemist who loved music when he met King at Queens College.
“She was interested in writing rock ‘n’ roll, and I was interested in writing this Broadway play,” Goffin told Vanity Fair in 2001. “So we had an agreement where she would write [music] to the play if I would write [lyrics] to some of her rock ‘n’ roll melodies. And eventually it came to be a boy-and-girl relationship. Eventually I began to lose heart in my play, and we stuck to writing rock ‘n’ roll.”
A whirlwind romance led to a marriage and their first hit, when she was only 17, Will You Love Me Tomorrow for the Shirelles, which a pregnant King helped write while suffering morning sickness.
Both quit their day jobs to focus on music, and other songs followed, including Up on the Roof for the Drifters, One Fine Day for the Chiffons and Chains, which was later covered by the Beatles. Goffin also collaborated with another Aldon composer, Barry Mann, on the hit Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp Bomp Bomp Bomp).
Goffin continued co-writing songs, including I’ve Got to Use My Imagination recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips, and It’s Not the Spotlight, recorded by Rod Stewart. In the 1980s and ’90s, he co-wrote Tonight I Celebrate My Love, a duet recorded by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack, and the Whitney Houston mega-hit Savin’ All My Love for You.
He is survived by his five children and his wife.