You may not have heard the name Gerry Goffin before learning of his passing Thursday night, but you have definitely heard the songs. Goffin was one-half of the greatest American pop songwriting duo in the 1960s, writing countless hits with his then-wife Carole King.
Their marriage lasted less than ten years, from 1959 to 1968, but their music together has made a lasting impact on the music business. Without them, we would never have had the catchy rhythm of “The Loco-Motion” or the heartbreaking lyrics of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Aretha Franklin may never have sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and The Monkees would never have taken us on a trip in “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”
His career didn’t end with King’s divorce. While she would go on to sell millions of records herself as a performer, Goffin continued to stay behind the scenes, penning hit after hit. He was even nominated for an Oscar for writing the lyrics to “Mahogany” with Michael Masser for Diana Ross.
Goffin died on Thursday at the age of 75 from natural causes. King and Goffin were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together in 1990 and also joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.
To honor his work and remind you of how great those songs remain, here are some of the best songs he wrote.
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10. “Saving All My Love For You” was written with Michael Masser. Whitney Houston covered it in 1985 and won her first Grammy for it.
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9. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” was one of the Monkee’s later hits and written with King. It doesn’t get much more psychedelic than this.
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8. “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” was the theme song from Mahogany and earned Goffin his Oscar nod. Unfortunately, 1975 was also the year of Nashville and he lost to Keith Carradine’s “I’m Easy.”
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7. “Up On The Roof” was first performed by The Drifters. The lyrics on this track just speak for themselves and the music King wrote was just as stunning.
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6. “Take Good Care of My Baby” is a classic King/Goffin track, written for Bobby Vee.
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5. “I’m Into Something Good” is pure, infectious pop at its finest. First performed by Earl-Jean of the Cookes, Herman’s Hermits had the bigger hit.
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4. “The Loco-Motion” established the Goffin/King team. It also started a dance craze and you’ll still hear it at parties.
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3. “Hey Girl” is real perfection. Just listen.
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2. “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” is one of Aretha Franklin’s most beloved songs and from the minds of King, Goffin and Jerry Wexler.
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1. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” was the King-Goffin duo’s first No. 1 single and was performed by The Shirelles first. To this writer, it remains one of the best songs ever written.