David Ritz

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David Ritz in 2008 David Ritz 02A.jpg
David Ritz in 2008

David Ritz (born December 2, 1943 in New York City) is an American author. He has written novels, biographies, magazine articles, and over a hundred liner notes for artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Nat King Cole. He has coauthored 36 autobiographies, including some celebrities’ autobiographies. [1]


Career and bibliography

As a journalist

“Happy Song: Soul Music in the Ghetto,” Ritz’s first critical essay, was published in Salmagundi (1970). Dozens of other articles have followed, including “History of the Jews of Dallas,” D Magazine (1974); “Kids’ Stuff: Jackson Pollock, Jimmie Vaughan and the Architecture of Las Vegas,” Art Connoisseur (1998); “Show and Tell,” introduction to Rolling Stone’s Tattoo Nation (2002); the forward to Lady Sings the Blues, the 50th anniversary edition of the autobiography of Billie Holiday (2006); and “The Last Days of Brother Ray,” included in Da Capo's Best Music Writing of 2005. [2]

As a biographer

Ritz’s first collaboration was Brother Ray (1978), the autobiography of Ray Charles. Ritz has said that his initial intention was to write a biography until becoming intrigued by the idea of rendering the book entirely in Charles' voice. "That's when I discovered I had a gift for channeling voice", Ritz told the L.A. Times' Patrick Goldstein in 2012. "That discovery changed the course of my literary life." [3]

Other autobiographies co-written by Ritz include:

Ritz has also written an inspirational book. Messengers, a portrait of African-American gospel singers and ministers, was published in 2006.

As a novelist

Ritz’s fiction ranges from sports fantasies--The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back To Brooklyn (1981)-- to jazz fantasies--Blue Notes Under a Green Felt Hat (1989) and Barbells and Saxophones (1989).

Ritz collaborated with Mable John on three Christian novels: Sanctified (2006), Stay Out of the Kitchen (2007) and Love Tornado (2008). He has also collaborated with rapper T.I. on two novels— Power and Beauty (2011) and Trouble and Triumph (2012). [5]

As a lyricist

The Platinum-selling song "Sexual Healing" was written in Ostend, Belgium in April 1982 and is credited as a collaboration between Marvin Gaye, Odell Brown, and Ritz. [6] Ritz was not originally credited as songwriter, and his contribution to the song has been debated, with many sources claiming that he contributed only the title. [7] Ritz sued Marvin Gaye for songwriting credit; Ritz received credit only after settling with Marvin Gaye's estate after the singer's death. [8] Ritz claims that the lawsuit was settled because he had interview tapes with Marvin Gaye in which Gaye says, "These are great lyrics you wrote." [9]

David Ritz also co-wrote three songs including the title track from Guy King's 2016 album "Truth". [10]

Personal life

Ritz graduated from the University of Texas in Austin, Phi Beta Kappa (1966) and received a Masters of Arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo (1970) where he studied with literary critic Leslie Fiedler.[ citation needed ]

He has been married to Roberta Michele Ritz since 1968. They have two children, twins Alison and Jessica, born 1974.


  • Ritz has also been nominated for four additional Grammys: “Ray Charles 50th Anniversary Collection,” Liner Notes (1997); “Ray Charles 50th Anniversary Collection,” Producer (1997); “Ray Charles—Pure Genius,” Liner Notes (2005); “Aretha Franklin—The Golden Reign,” Liner Notes (2008). [12]

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  1. "David Ritz - Interview". Penny Black Music UK.
  2. Hamlin, Jesse (18 September 2006). "Billie Holiday's bio, 'Lady Sings the Blues,' may be full of lies, but it gets at jazz great's core". SF Gate. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  3. Ray Charles; David Ritz (September 2003). Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story . Da Capo Press. ISBN   978-0-306-81335-1.
  4. Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye. Google Books. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. Trouble & Triumph: A Novel of Power & Beauty . Harper Collins. 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2013 via Internet Archive. TROUBLE.
  6. "Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye". SongFacts. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  7. De Witte, Patrick (March 14, 1994). "Marvin Gaye: van ellende naar Oostende". HUMO (in Dutch). Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  8. Gaye, Frankie (2003). Marvin Gaye, My Brother . Backbeat Books. p.  145. ISBN   0-87930-742-0.
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