Rodger Penzabene

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Rodger Penzabene
Also known as Roger Penzabene
Born 1944
Died December 31, 1967(1967-12-31) (age 23)
Genres Soul music
Occupation(s) Lyricist
Years active 1966–1967

Rodger Penzabene (1944 – December 31, 1967), also mistakenly known as Roger Penzabene, was a songwriter for the Motown label. Among his most notable compositions as a lyricist are "Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me" by Gladys Knight & the Pips; "The End of Our Road" by Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye; and a trilogy of hits for The Temptations: "You're My Everything", "I Wish It Would Rain", and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)".[1][2]

Penzabene was of Sicilian and Irish extraction, and attended Mumford High School in Detroit, Michigan.[3] He was a childhood friend and neighbor of Cornelius Grant, with whom he wrote "You're My Everything". After Grant became musical director for the Temptations, Penzabene continued to contribute songs for the group, and for other Motown acts.[3] Family members have claimed that Penzabene contributed to, but was not credited for, other successful Motown songs including "I Heard It Through The Grapevine".[3]

The mournful songs "I Wish It Would Rain" and "I Could Never Love Another" reportedly drew from Penzabene's real-life pain and suffering. Otis Williams wrote that: "We liked Roger a lot. He was young, nice-looking, but kind of quiet and reserved, and very humble. Ironically, the inspiration for these great songs was his unhappy personal life".[4] According to some reports,[5] the songwriter found out that his wife was cheating on him, but could not bring himself to leave her, and his emotions on the situation were reflected in his songs, although the lyrics were changed from the original.

On New Year's Eve 1967, a week after the release of "I Wish It Would Rain", Penzabene committed suicide by gunshot at the age of 23.[3][4]