Howard Tate, soul man, 1939-2011
December 4, 2011 3:33 AM   Subscribe

The man who lent his wonderfully warm and soaring voice to the rolling soul ballad Get It While You Can, the limber southern funk of Eight Days on the Road, the coolly driving How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark, the mellow soul lilt (with breathtaking falsetto interjections!) of I Learned It All the Hard Way and so many other delightful soul numbers has died. Farewell Howard Tate.

Here's the Wiki page for Howard Tate, which, as of this posting, has not yet been updated to include his death.

And here's Janis Joplin's wonderful cover of Get It While You Can.
posted by flapjax at midnite (17 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
While we're mourning Howard, let's spare a moment's thought for his primary collaborator who also died this year. Jerry Ragavoy not only wrote most of Howard Tate's songs, he wrote and produced some of the greatest records of all time.

Howard Sounding Good.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:15 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks, Peter. I'd thought briefly of expanding this FPP to include Ragovoy, who was obviously the man behind the man in this case, but it just seemed like too big a task! Ragovoy deserves an FPP of his own, for sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:37 AM on December 4, 2011

BTW, that Ragovoy obit mentions the tune "Stop", which was recorded originally by Howard Tate. Looking for the original, couldn't find it on YouTube, but there's an MP3 here. And here's Hendrix's Band of Gypsys cover.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:55 AM on December 4, 2011

posted by Renoroc at 5:35 AM on December 4, 2011

Stumbling onto Get It While You Can, the collection of Tate's amazing Verve records, reaffirmed my faith that there was still tons of awesome music waiting to be discovered ("Shoot 'Em All Down" is so, so gorgeous). Tate is also one of the great comeback stories - homeless crack addict, long thought dead, sought and found by a fan, which brought his career back to life. Here's Tate interviewed by Terry Gross in 2003 as his comeback was hitting full stride.
posted by mediareport at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2011

The comeback story, in a nutshell:

In the ensuing three decades following Tate's
disappearance, he endured a harrowing ordeal that
included the death of a daughter and a protracted
struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. It was in
1994, homeless and destitute, that Tate experienced a
powerful religious conversion, which led him to
establish and pastor the Gift of the Cross Church in
his native Philadelphia.

In the years following his disappearance, Jerry
Ragovoy was frequently approached by record labels and
promoters seeking to locate the lost R&B master.
Interest only increased after the 1995 re-release of
Get It While You Can, but despite his best efforts,
the producer and songwriter could not contact his
former musical partner and had given him up for dead.

It was on New Year's Day, 2001 that a fellow musician
spotted Tate in a Philadelphia supermarket and relayed
the discovery to area DJ Phil Casden, who had been
broadcasting an appeal for news of the missing artist.
Ragovoy was notified and, shortly afterwards, the
reunited pair began work on a new album. "It was
amazing," the producer and songwriter confides. "I
immediately got in touch with him, for no other reason
than to renew an old friendship. I had no notion of
working with him again until I heard him speak for the
first time. I could tell right away that he still had
it. His voice was strong and clear, which in itself is
a miracle considering all he had been through over the

posted by mediareport at 7:26 AM on December 4, 2011

2001 interview at Perfect Sound Forever, including comments from Tate about money issues with Ragovoy (since forgiven) and Verve's mishandling of the marketing of his early records.
posted by mediareport at 7:28 AM on December 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

According to that Perfect Sound Forever interview, Ragavoy and Tate were hooked up by Georgie Woods, The Guy With The Goods who I only know about because of this record.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:53 AM on December 4, 2011



Oh, Lord.

posted by magstheaxe at 8:06 AM on December 4, 2011

posted by Mister Bijou at 9:19 AM on December 4, 2011

I wasn't familiar with Howard before, but "How Come My Bulldog Don't Bark" absolutely smokes. I'm always a little bummed when it takes an obituary post to turn me on to a new artist.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2011

His amazing Ain't Nobody Home has been covered by B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt, among others.

posted by kimota at 11:14 AM on December 4, 2011

Looking for the original, couldn't find it on YouTube.

Think this might be Howard, performing it live at the Richmond Folk Festival in 2008. He's not at his best in that clip though.

This one, from a year or two earlier, OTOH, is something else.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:53 AM on December 4, 2011

I knew Tate's music, but not in-depth, and didn't know much about his personal story at all. Thanks for helping remedy that, flapjax.
posted by scody at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2011

So many of the great ones are passing! :(.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:42 PM on December 4, 2011

I discovered Tate's records about a year or so ago, and was totally charmed. Wonderful post. He will be missed.
posted by .kobayashi. at 2:20 PM on December 5, 2011

The New York Times got around to posting an obituary a few days ago.

And then there's this historical tidbit, a glimpse of the rougher side of things.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:06 AM on December 12, 2011

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