Gerry Goffin

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Gerry Goffin
Birth name Gerald Goffin
Born (1939-02-11)February 11, 1939
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died June 19, 2014(2014-06-19) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation(s) Lyricist
Associated acts Carole King, Barry Goldberg

Gerald "Gerry" Goffin (February 11, 1939 – June 19, 2014) was an American lyricist. Writing initially with his wife Carole King, he co-wrote many international pop hits of the early and mid-1960s, including the US No.1 hits "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Take Good Care of My Baby", "The Loco-Motion", and "Go Away Little Girl". It was later said of Goffin that his gift was "to find words that expressed what many young people were feeling but were unable to articulate."[1]

After he and King divorced, Goffin wrote with other composers, including Barry Goldberg and Michael Masser, with whom he wrote "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" and "Saving All My Love for You", also No.1 hits. During his career Goffin penned over 114 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including eight chart-toppers, and 72 UK Singles Chart UK hits.[2] He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, with Carole King.


Early life[edit]

Goffin was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Queens after his parents' divorce.[3] In his teen years, he did some work for his grandfather, a furrier who was a Russian Jewish immigrant.[4] He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve after graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School. After spending a year at the U.S. Naval Academy, he resigned from the Navy to study chemistry at Queens College.[5]

Partnership with Carole King[edit]

At college he met Carol Klein, who had started writing songs under the name Carole King. They began collaborating on songwriting, with King writing the music and Goffin the lyrics, and began a relationship. When King became pregnant, they married in August 1959 when he was 20 and she was 17. Goffin began working with a chemicals manufacturer, and wrote the lyrics for Carole King's 1959 single "Oh Neil", an answer song to her friend Neil Sedaka's "Oh! Carol". Goffin added the words to the tune written by Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, who both worked under Don Kirshner at the Aldon music publishing company in Manhattan; the single's B-side, "A Very Special Boy", was a Goffin-King composition.[6] Although the record was not a hit, the couple both secured contracts to write songs professionally at Aldon.[3][7]

Goffin at first worked with other writers including Barry Mann and Jack Keller, but he and Carole King soon established themselves as a successful writing team. The partnership's breakthrough hit was "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", for which Goffin wrote the lyrics. The song was recorded by the Shirelles and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1961. Goffin and King formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the period, with hit songs including "Take Good Care of My Baby" (a hit for Bobby Vee), "Halfway to Paradise" (Tony Orlando, Billy Fury), "The Loco-Motion" (Little Eva, and later Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue), "Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence, and later Donny Osmond), "It Might as Well Rain Until September" (Carole King), "One Fine Day" (The Chiffons), "Up on the Roof" (The Drifters), "I'm into Something Good" (Herman's Hermits, but originally recorded by Earl-Jean McCrea under the name Earl-Jean), "Don't Bring Me Down" (The Animals), "Oh No Not My Baby" (Maxine Brown, and later Rod Stewart), "Goin' Back" (Dusty Springfield, The Byrds), "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin), and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (The Monkees).[5][8] Goffin and King also wrote several songs jointly with record producer Phil Spector.[8] In 1963, John Lennon was quoted as saying that he wanted Paul McCartney and himself to become "the Goffin-King of England".[3]

In 1964, Goffin fathered a daughter with singer Jeanie Reavis (whose recording of I'm into Something Good preceded Herman's Hermits' more well-known version), but he and King remained together for several years before divorcing in 1969. The two continued to work together for some years afterwards.[7] Goffin later said in an interview in Vanity Fair that he "wanted to be a hippie—grew my hair long—and Carole did it modestly... And then I started taking LSD and mescaline. And Carole and I began to grow apart because she felt that she had to say things herself. She had to be her own lyricist."[3] According to King's memoir, Goffin suffered from mental illness following ingestion of LSD, eventually undergoing treatment with lithium and electroshock therapy, and was diagnosed with manic depression. His drug use affected his health, and he was hospitalized for a time.[3]

Other collaborations[edit]

Goffin also worked successfully with other composers in the early 1960s, including Barry Mann ("Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)") and Jack Keller ("Run to Him").[8]

After splitting from King, Goffin released a solo album in 1973, It Ain't Exactly Entertainment, but it was not successful, and he began working with other composers, including Russ Titelman, Barry Goldberg, and then Michael Masser.[9] He and Masser won an Academy Award nomination in 1976 for the theme to the film Mahogany, sung by Diana Ross; and also wrote "Saving All My Love for You", a worldwide hit for Whitney Houston, "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love", and "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You". Goffin and Masser also received a Golden Globe nomination for "So Sad the Song" from the 1976 Gladys Knight film Pipe Dreams.[8]

Goffin co-wrote three songs for the soundtrack to Grace of My Heart, a 1996 movie whose principal character's life paralleled that of Carole King in many ways.

Later life[edit]

Goffin and King were inducted together into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.[3]

In 1996 he released his second solo album, Back Room Blood, which he said was inspired by his anger at conservative gains in the 1994 congressional elections.[10] The album was mostly co-written with Barry Goldberg, but included two songs co-written with Bob Dylan, "Tragedy of the Trade" and "Masquerade". Goffin described Dylan as "sort of like a god to me".[10] Goffin was one of the first people to take notice of Kelly Clarkson's talent and had hired her to do demo work prior to her auditioning for American Idol in 2002.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Gerry Goffin was married to Carole King between 1959 and 1969; they had two daughters, singer-songwriter Louise Goffin and Sherry Goffin Kondor.[9] Goffin also had a daughter, Dawn, with Jeanie Reavis. He married Barbara Behling in the early 1970s and had a son, Jesse Dean Goffin, in 1976. They divorced later that decade. Goffin then married songwriter Ellen Minasian in the 1980s and had one daughter, Lauren, in 1984.[12][13] Following their divorce he married actress Michele Conaway (the sister of Jeff Conaway) in 1995.[14][15]


Goffin died on June 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 75. He left one son, four daughters, and six grandchildren.[9]


On hearing of his death, Carole King said that Goffin was her "first love" and had a "profound impact" on her life."[16] She went on to say, "His words expressed what so many people were feeling but didn’t know how to say... Gerry was a good man and a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come."[9] Barry Goldberg, who wrote many later songs with Goffin, said "Gerry was one of the greatest lyricists of all time and my true soul brother."[16]

See also[edit]


Singles and EPs[edit]


  • It Ain't Exactly Entertainment (1973), Adelphi Records Inc – AD4102 (double vinyl album)
  • Back Room Blood (1996), Genes Records – GCD 4132
  • It Ain't Exactly Entertainment Demo & Other Sessions (2010) Big Pink – BIG PINK 92 (CD, Album)


  1. ^ "Gerry Goffin – obituary", The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f Adam Bernstein, "Gerry Goffin, lyricist who co-wrote seminal ’60s hits, dies at 75", Washington Post, 20 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014
  4. ^ Laing, Dave (20 June 2014). "Gerry Goffin obituary: Lyricist who, with his partner Carole King, wrote many hit songs of the 1960s", The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b Gerry Goffin, Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 June 2014
  6. ^ "Oh Neil", Retrieved 22 June 2014
  7. ^ a b Kevin Rawlinson, "Gerry Goffin, US lyricist, dies at 75", The Guardian, 20 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014
  8. ^ a b c d Songs written by Gerry Goffin, Secondhand Songs. Retrieved 20 June 2014
  9. ^ a b c d Yardley, William; Keepnews, Peter (June 19, 2014). "Gerry Goffin, Songwriter With Carole King, Dies at 75". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ a b Chris Morris, "Gerry Goffin Draws Overdue 'Blood'", Billboard, 13 April 1996, p.43
  11. ^ Kory Grow, "Gerry Goffin, Songwriter and Carole King's Ex-Husband, Dead at 75", Rolling Stone, 19 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014
  12. ^ California, Marriage Index, 1960–1985, Retrieved 22 June 2014
  13. ^ "Spending Time with the Legendary Lyricist Gerry Goffin", Brushed by Fame. Retrieved 22 June 2014
  14. ^ Gerry Goffin, Retrieved 22 June 2014
  15. ^ Meredith Blake, "Gerry Goffin, songwriting partner of Carole King, dies at 75", LA Times, 19 June 2014. Retrieved 22 June 2014
  16. ^ a b "BBC News – Gerry Goffin, writer of song Natural Woman, dies". Retrieved June 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]