Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Soulobit: Howard Tate

Howard Tate, who disproved the dictum about no second acts in American lives, has died.

Tate was a major soul star in the 60s - he toured with Aretha Franklin and scored hits on the R&B chart, most successfully with this:

But he felt he was being sold short by the record labels; in the early 1970s, he quit music altogether. He destroyed his own records, and joined the insurance industry, a place where he felt he would be able to keep better track of what was owed to him.

So complete was his divorce from music that many believed he was dead - that's showbusiness, where not being on TV is the same as being in your tomb.

But insurance wasn't any kinder to him. After his daughter died in a fire, Tate spent a decade in thrall to addiction.

End of Act One.

A chance meeting and the rise of the CD conspired to bring Tate back - he'd cleaned up his life and become a minister when he bumped into one of Howard Melvin's former Blue Notes in a shop just as the reissue market kicked off by the CD had rediscovered his 1960s albums. By 2003, Tate was back in the studio; even landing a Grammy.

It's not clear if the industry ever paid him the money he felt he'd earned earlier.

Howard Tate was 72; his death was described as being due to natural causes.