Gerry Goffin

Last updated
Gerry Goffin
Birth nameGerald Goffin
Born(1939-02-11)February 11, 1939
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 19, 2014(2014-06-19) (aged 75)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation(s) Lyricist
Associated acts

Gerald 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]

A lyricist or lyrist is a person who writes lyrics—words for songs—as opposed to a composer, who writes the song's melody.

Carole King American singer and songwriter

Carole King is an American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1958, initially as one of the staff songwriters at the Brill Building and later as a solo artist. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the US, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1955 and 1999. King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1952 and 2005.

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.


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 wrote over 114 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including eight chart-toppers, and 72 UK hits. [2] He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, with Carole King.

Barry Goldberg American blues and rock keyboardist, songwriter and record producer

Barry Joseph Goldberg is a blues and rock keyboardist, songwriter and record producer.

Michael William Masser was an American songwriter, composer and producer of popular music.

Theme from <i>Mahogany</i> (Do You Know Where Youre Going To) single

"Theme from Mahogany" is a song written by Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin, and initially recorded by American singer Thelma Houston in 1973, and then most notably by Diana Ross as the theme to the 1975 Motown/Paramount film Mahogany.


Early life

Goffin was born to a Jewish family [3] in Brooklyn, New York, United States, and grew up in Queens after his parents' divorce. [4] In his teen years, he did some work for his grandfather, a furrier who was a Russian Jewish immigrant. [5] He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve after graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School. After spending a year at the U.S. Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1961, he resigned from the Navy to study chemistry at Queens College. [6]

American Jews Ethnic group

American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are Americans who are Jews, whether by religion, ethnicity or nationality. The current Jewish community in the United States consists primarily of Ashkenazi Jews, who descend from diaspora Jewish populations of Central and Eastern Europe and comprise about 90-95% of the American Jewish population. Most American Ashkenazim are US-born, with a dwindling number of now elderly earlier immigrants, as well as some more recent foreign-born immigrants.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York, officially the State of New York, is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. To distinguish the state from the city in the state with the same name, it is sometimes called New York State.

Partnership with Carole King

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 left college and 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. [7] Although the record was not a hit, the couple both secured contracts to write songs professionally at Aldon. [4] [8]

An answer song, response song or answer record, is a song made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist. The concept became widespread in blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s to the 1950s. Answer songs were also extremely popular in country music in the 1950s and 1960s, most often as female responses to an original hit by a male artist.

Neil Sedaka American musician

Neil Sedaka is an American pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer. Since his music career began in 1957 as a short-lived founding member of the Tokens, he has sold millions of records as an artist and has written or co-written over 500 songs for himself and others, collaborating mostly with lyricists Howard Greenfield and Phil Cody.

Oh! Carol 1959 song performed by Neil Sedaka

"Oh! Carol" is an international hit written by Neil Sedaka in 1958. The song was co-written with Howard Greenfield. The song reached #9 in the American charts in 1959. It also earned Sedaka his first #1 ranking when it went to #1 on the Italian charts for four weeks in January 1960. After release of single, it was included in the album Neil Sedaka Sings Little Devil and His Other Hits. The song is noted for Sedaka's spoken recitation of the verse, the second time around.

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), "Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)" (the Cookies), "It Might as Well Rain Until September" (Carole King), "One Fine Day" (the Chiffons), "Up on the Roof" (the Drifters and later James Taylor), "I'm into Something Good" (Herman's Hermits, but recorded first 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). [6] [9] Goffin and King also wrote several songs jointly with record producer Phil Spector. [9] In 1963, John Lennon was quoted as saying that he wanted Paul McCartney and himself to become "the Goffin-King of England". [4]

Barry Mann American musician and songwriter

Barry Mann is an American songwriter, and part of a successful songwriting partnership with his wife, Cynthia Weil.

Jack Keller (songwriter) American songwriter

Jack Walter Keller was an American composer, songwriter and record producer. He co-wrote, with Howard Greenfield and others, several pop hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Just Between You and Me", "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own", "Venus in Blue Jeans" and "Run to Him". He also wrote the theme songs for TV series including Bewitched and Gidget, and later worked in Los Angeles – where he wrote for, and produced, The Monkees – and in Nashville.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow original song written and composed by Carole King (music) and Gerry Goffin (words)

"Will You Love Me Tomorrow", also known as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It was originally recorded in 1960 by the Shirelles, who took their single to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is also notable for being the first song by a black all-girl group to reach number one in the United States. It has since been recorded by many artists over the years, including a 1971 version by co-writer Carole King.

In 1964, Goffin fathered a daughter with singer Jeanie Reavis (whose recording of I'm into Something Good preceded Herman's Hermits' better-known version), but he and King remained together for several years before divorcing in 1969. [8] 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." [4] 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. [4]

Earl-Jean Reavis is an American former pop and R&B singer, who was a member of the Cookies vocal group. Credited as Earl-Jean, she had a solo hit with the original version of "I'm Into Somethin' Good", written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and later a bigger hit for Herman's Hermits.

Im into Something Good 1964 single by Hermans Hermits

"I'm into Something Good" is a song composed by Gerry Goffin (lyrics) and Carole King (music) and made famous by Herman's Hermits. The song was originally recorded by Cookies member Earl-Jean on Colpix Records in 1964. It entered the U.S. Cash Box Top 100 charts in the US on July 4, 1964 and spent 8 weeks there, reaching a high of number 42 on August 15, 1964, and number 38 Billboard.

Vanity Fair is a magazine of popular culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast in the United States.

Other collaborations

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"). [9]

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. [10] 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 . [9]

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

Goffin and King were inducted together into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. [4]

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. [11] 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". [11] Goffin was one of the first people to take notice of Kelly Clarkson's talent and had hired her to do demo work before she auditioned for American Idol in 2002. [12]

Personal life

Gerry Goffin was married to Carole King between 1959 and 1969; they had two daughters, singer-songwriter Louise Goffin and Sherry Goffin Kondor. [10] Goffin also had a daughter, Dawn, with Jeanie Reavis (Earl-Jean McCrea). 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. [13] [14] Following their divorce he married actress Michele Conaway (the sister of Jeff Conaway) in 1995. [15] [16]


Goffin died on June 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 75. His death was announced by his wife, Michele. No cause was specified. [17] He left a wife, one son, four daughters, and six grandchildren. [10]


On hearing of his death, Carole King said that Goffin was her "first love" and had a "profound impact" on her life." [18] 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." [10] 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." [18]

See also


Singles and EPs


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