Soul Songsmith Jerry Ragovoy Dies at 80
Jerry Ragovoy, the famed soul songwriter and producer, died on July 13 of complications from a stroke. He was 80 years old.
Even though Ragovoy wrote and arranged soul songs, his work is best known through the rock artists that covered his material. The Who covered his song “Anytime You Want Me,” on their 1965 album My Generation, while Janis Joplin’s version of his “Piece Of My Heart,” remains one of the staple songs from the 1960s.
The Rolling Stones also scored their first Top Ten hit in the U.S. when they covered Ragovoy’s “Time Is On My Side,” which he wrote under the pseudonym Norman Meade, in 1964.
Ragovoy began his music career in Philadelphia in 1953 before moving up to New York City, where he opened the Hit Factory and began his career as a songwriter, producer and arranger of soul music. He produced several records in the early 60s, including Garnett Mimms’ “Cry Baby,” which reached number 4 on the charts.
Ragovoy continued to produce Mimms’ records for the rest of the decade. Together, the duo created a soulful sound that drew heavy influence from the church and Gospel music, while still retaining the orchestral arrangements common in soul music at the time.
Ragovoy is survived by his wife Beverly, their twin daughters and one granddaughter. There are plans for a memorial gathering and celebration of Ragovoy’s life to take place in the fall.