Gerry Goffin, first husband of Hall of Fame songwriter Carole King and a legendary lyricist in his own right, is dead today at age 75, his wife Michelle Goffin announced. Goffin, who with King co-wrote many of the best-remembered pop songs of the 1960s, including seven Number One hits, passed away of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles Thursday morning.
Goffin was working as an assistant chemist at Queens College in New York City when he met Carole King and embarked on a whirlwind romance. The two married in 1959 when Brooklyn native Goffin was 20 and Manhattanite King was 17.
They quickly formed a songwriting partnership that, less two years after their wedding, saw their song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” reach Number One, in a recording by New Jersey-based girl group The Shirelles.
As the decade went on, the Goffin-King songwriting team, working out of Manhattan’s famous Brill Building, generated a remarkable series of hits, with songs that still resonate today. The lengthy list includes the Aretha Franklin hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “The Loco-Motion,” first recorded by Little Eva in 1962 and again by Grand Funk Railroad in 1974, The Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and “Chains,” a minor hit for The Cookies that was then made famous in a cover version by The Beatles.
Gerry Goffin and Carole King ended their marriage under difficult circumstances in 1968, amid allegations of incessant womanizing by Goffin who at that time also suffered from severe psychological problems. But the songwriting team wrote several more songs, including the 1970 Blood, Sweat and Tears hit “Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll),” which had first been recorded by Dusty Springfield in 1969.
After the marriage, King went on to become a major star on her own, and a leading figure in the singer-songwriter movement of the early 1970s. Goffin continued to write songs with other collaborators, even earning an Oscar nomination in 1975 for his collaboration with Michael Masser on “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?),” recorded by the film’s star, Diana Ross.
Goffin also co-wrote the song that earned Whitney Houston her first Grammy Award, “Saving All My Love For You.”
The current Broadway musical, Beautiful, features many of the songs penned by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, as it dramatizes the ups and downs of their decade-long romance.
“Gerry Goffin was my first love,” Carole King said in a written statement remembering Gerry Goffin Thursday. “He had a profound impact on my life and the rest of the world. Gerry was a good man and a dynamic force whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come.”