This is a great story – sometimes lives do turn around and have happy endings, or at least new beginnings:
- R&B singer Howard Tate seemed to have a promising career going in the ’60s and early ’70s. Tate’s voice and emotion-charged stylings had people comparing him favorably to Sam Cooke, and several of music’s biggest stars covered his work. Then he abruptly faded from sight.
For nearly 30 years, no one could find him, and he was eventually assumed dead. But a quirk of fate led to his re-emergence, and on his just-released new album, Howard Tate Rediscovered, he sounds as if he never left.
Aficionados consider Tate’s 1967 album, Get It While You Can, one of the greatest soul albums. That his gifts remain intact today is astonishing considering he suffered years of despair, homelessness and drug addiction before finding redemption. Tate, 60, who is now a minister in New Jersey, hopes to use proceeds from the new album to help the homeless.
There was a time when he couldn’t even help himself. Tate says he was fed up over unrelenting tours and not getting paid what he felt was due him for a string of hits that included Stop, Ain’t Nobody Home and Look at Granny Run Run. He shut himself off from the music business around 1975, returning to Philadelphia to sell insurance to support a wife and six children. But after a 13-year-old daughter died in a house fire the following year, his 19-year marriage ended and his life collapsed.
….Jerry Ragovoy, who produced the new album and much of Tate’s vintage work, says: ”The last I saw of Howard was in 1972 or 1973, and then he disappeared off the face of the Earth. In the early ’80s, promoters here and in Europe would call trying to book him. I tried to find him for 10 years, and finally I started telling club owners that I didn’t know where he was and that maybe he had died.”
….Fast-forward to New Year’s Day 2001. Tate was in a store buying a bottle of barbecue sauce when he was spotted by Ron Kennedy, formerly of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. Kennedy had seen Tate a month earlier but had been unable to convince him that people in the industry were hot to find him. This time, Kennedy had a newspaper article about Get It While You Can’s rerelease, and Tate let Kennedy pass his number on to Casden.
Casden arranged dinner with Tate and took several pictures, which he put on the Internet along with announcements that Tate had been found. Before the night was done, Tate received calls from journalists in England, France and Australia, and the next day he heard from Ragovoy.
….Tate says there’s no conflict between his ministry and his return to singing secular music.
”The Lord told me, ‘If I tell you to do this, you do it. But live the life that’s credible to me.’ I’m doing all this for his glory.” [USA Today]