Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South Jersey Soul Singer Howard Tate RIP

Soul singer Howard Tate dies in Burlington City apartment at 72

TRENTON — Soul singer Howard Tate has died in his Burlington City apartment a decade after a career resurrection that followed years of tragedy and obscurity.

A spokesman for the Burlington County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tate died of natural causes Friday at age 72.

The son of a Baptist preacher, Tate was born in Macon, Ga., and grew up in Philadelphia singing gospel songs. In 2004, in a feature story published by the Burlington County Times, he was living in a home along the Rancocas Creek in Southampton.

In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Tate had three top 20 R&B hits, including “Get It While You Can,” written by his longtime producer, Jerry Ragovoy, and made more famous by Janis Joplin.
But his own album sales suffered, and Tate claimed that he received almost no royalties from his music.

“I’d go out on the road and come back home to my wife, who would say, ‘You’re on the charts, you’re working 300 days a year, how come there’s no money?’ “ he recalled in the 2004 article.
Depressed and frustrated, Tate left the music scene, vowing to never return.

In the late 1970s, Tate’s daughter died in a fire, his marriage ended and, to ease the pain, he turned to alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. He wound up homeless, living on the streets of Philadelphia for about 10 years. Ragovoy believed he had died.

“I’ve been hit in the mouth with a brick, been on the scene with knives and guns,” Tate remembered. “I could have lost my life out there.”

In 1994, Tate said he found God and created a church to help the homeless and drug-addicted. He made his musical comeback after a fellow musician saw him in a grocery store in 2001.

His 2003 release, “Rediscovered,” again with Ragovoy producing, was nominated for a Grammy for best contemporary blues album. His last work of new material was “Blue Day” in 2008.

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