Lyricist Gerry Goffin, Carole King's Ex-Husband, Dies at 75

Gerry Goffin
Gerry Goffin
 AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Gerry Goffin, a prolific and multi-dimensional lyricist who with his then-wife and songwriting partner Carole King wrote such hits as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," ''(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," ''Up on the Roof" and "The Loco-Motion," died early Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 75.

His wife, Michelle Goffin, confirmed his death.

Goffin, who married King in 1959 while they were in their teens, penned more than 50 top 40 hits, including "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees, "Crying in the Rain" by the Everly Brothers, "Some Kind of Wonderful" for the Drifters and "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee. Goffin was able to pen jokey lyrics or achingly sad ones. He also did it for solo artists and multiple voices.

The couple divorced in 1968, but Goffin kept writing hits, including "Savin' All My Love for You" for Whitney Houston. Goffin and King were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years later.

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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. Though it also alleges Goffin's womanizing and mental instability were causes of the breakup, he happily attended the opening of the musical.

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 was born in Brooklyn in 1939 and was working as a chemist 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.

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