Gerry Goffin

Eyridiki Sellou | Apr 15, 2024

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Gerald "Gerry" Goffin (Brooklyn, New York, February 11, 1939-Los Angeles, June 19, 2014) was an American lyricist. Together with his wife Carole King, he wrote numerous international pop music hits in the early 1960s, including the #1s, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Take Good Care of My Baby," "The Loco-Motion," and "Go Away Little Girl."

After divorcing King, Goffin wrote for other songwriters such as 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". During his career, 114 of Goffin's songs charted on the Billboard Hot 100, including eight No. 1s. 72 of his songs charted in the U.K. charts. Goffin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his wife in 1990.


Goffin was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the borough of Queens. As a teenager, he worked for his grandfather, a Russian-born Jewish furrier. After spending a year at the U.S. Naval Academy, he studied chemistry at Queens University.

Relationship with Carole King

In college he met Carol Klein, a songwriter who signed her songs under the stage name Carole King. Together they began a relationship both sentimentally and professionally, with Goffin writing lyrics and King composing the music for the songs. In August 1959 they married, after King became pregnant, he was 20, she was 17. Goffin then began working in a chemical factory. In 1959 he wrote the lyrics to Carole King's single, "Oh Neil", the answer to his friend Neil Sedaka's "Oh! Carol". Goffin put lyrics to the tune created by Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, who worked for Don Kirshner at the Aldon Company in Manhattan, the B-side of the single was "A Very Special Boy," a Goffin-King composition. Although the record was not a hit, it served to open the doors of Aldon Music to the pair, who thus became professional songwriters.

Goffin initially worked alongside other writers such as Barry Mann and Jack Keller, but soon established a successful songwriting tandem with his wife. The couple's first major professional hit was "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". The song was recorded by the Shirelles and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in January 1961. Goffin and King formed one of the most successful songwriting couples of their era, with songs such as "Take Good Care of My Baby" (for Bobby Vee), "Halfway to Paradise" (Tony Orlando, Billy Fury), "The Loco-Motion" (Little Eva, later Grand Funk Railroad and Kylie Minogue), "Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence, 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), "I'm into Something Good" (Herman's Hermits, Earl-Jean McCrea), "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). Goffin and King also wrote numerous songs with producer Phil Spector. In 1963, John Lennon said that he and Paul McCartney wanted to be "the Goffin-King of England".

In 1964, Goffin had a daughter with singer Jeanie Reavis. Despite this, King remained with him for a few more years, until their divorce in 1969. Goffin later said in an interview for Vanity Fair that at the time he "wanted to be a hippie-I let my hair grow out-and Carole took it easier... and then I started taking LSD and mescaline. And Carole and I started to drift apart because she felt she had to do things for herself. She wanted to be her own lyricist." According to King's memoir, Goffin suffered from mental illness as a result of LSD use, which he had eventually treated with lithium and electroshock therapy and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Drug abuse took a toll on his health and he had to be hospitalized for a time.

Other collaborations

Goffin had already collaborated with other composers in the early 1960s, such as Barry Mann ("Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)") and Jack Keller ("Run to Him").

After separating from his wife, Goffin released a solo album in 1973, It Ain't Exactly Entertainment, but it was unsuccessful, so he began collaborating with other songwriters such as Russ Titelman, Barry Goldberg and Michael Masser. He and Masser were nominated for Oscars in 1976 for the theme song to the film Mahogany, performed by Diana Ross. They 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 Gladys Knight's 1976 film, Pipe Dreams.

Goffin co-wrote three songs for the soundtrack of Grace of My Heart, a 1996 film whose protagonist bears certain parallels to the life of Carole King.

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

Personal life

Gerry Goffin was married to Carole King from 1959 to 1969; they had two daughters, fellow songwriter Louise Goffin and Sherry Goffin Kondor. Goffin also had another daughter, Dawn, with Jeanie Reavis (Earl-Jean McCrea). In the early 1970s, he remarried Barbara Behling, with whom he had a son, Jesse Dean Goffin, in 1976. They divorced at the end of the decade. Goffin married songwriter Ellen Minasian in the early 1980s and they had a daughter, Lauren, born in 1984. After his third divorce, he married actress Michele Conaway (Jeff Conaway's sister) in 1995.

Goffin passed away on June 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 75. He leaves, wife, one son, four daughters, and six grandchildren.


Upon learning of his death, Carole King said that Goffin had been her first love and had had a profound impact on her life." She also said that, "His words expressed what many people felt 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." Barry Goldberg, who wrote many songs with Goffin said, "Gerry was one of the greatest lyricists of all time and my true soul brother."


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  2. Gerry Goffin
  3. ^ "Gerry Goffin – obituary", The Telegraph, 20 June 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014
  4. ^ a b c d e f Adam Bernstein, "Gerry Goffin, lyricist who co-wrote seminal '60s hits, dies at 75", Washington Post, June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014
  5. Laing, Dave (20 June 2014).
  6. Kevin Rawlinson, "Gerry Goffin, US lyricist, dies at 75", The Guardian, 20 June 2014.
  7. Gerry Goffin,
  8. a b c et d (en) « Obituaries: Gerry Goffin », The Daily Telegraph, 20 juin 2014
  9. Songschreiber Gerry Goffin ist tot. In: Spiegel Online vom 20. Juni 2014 (abgerufen am 20. Juni 2014).
  10. The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Rolling Stone, August 2015, abgerufen am 8. August 2017 (englisch).

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