Soul singer Howard Tate, who was effectively lost to fans for years after his once-promising career was cut short, died December 2nd of complications from multiple myeloma and leukemia. He was 72.
Tate, who was born in Georgia and grew up in Philadelphia, was a highly touted young singer in the Sixties and early Seventies, when he recorded for Verve, Atlantic and other labels. A favorite of the producer Jerry Ragovoy, Tate had six Top 40 R&B hits and sang an early version of “Get It While You Can,” later covered by Janis Joplin.
After an initial splash, Tate’s career sputtered. His 1970 album (reissued in 2003), Howard Tate’s Reaction, sold poorly despite co-production from fellow singers Lloyd Price and Johnny Nash. After a self-titled follow-up on Atlantic Records also failed to sell, Tate dropped out of the music industry. He worked in the financial industry before a drug dependency landed the singer on the streets in the late 1980s. When he recovered, he worked as a counselor and a preacher.
Located by a Jersey City disc jockey in 2001, Tate played his first show in decades that year in New Orleans. A 2003 comeback album, aptly called Rediscovered, featured covers of songs by Elvis Costello and Prince. Tate continued to perform and record on and off until his death.