Jerry Ragavoy
b. 4 September 1930, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Ragovoy's career as a songwriter and producer began in the doo-wop era of the early '50s. His first successful act was the Castelles, who had a hit with My Girl Awaits Me in 1953. In 1959 he began a partnership with entrepreneur Bill Fox which resulted in several collaborations with the Majors, one of the latter's successful acts. Ragovoy produced several of the group's releases, including the US Top 30 hit A Wonderful Dream, co-writing them under the pseudonym 'Norman Meade'. This appellation also appeared on Time Is On My Side, recorded by Irma Thomas in 1964 and later revived successfully by the Rolling Stones. Ragovoy also enjoyed a fruitful partnership with fellow black music producer Bert Berns and together the duo guided the career of deep soul singer Garnet Mimms. In 1966 Ragovoy wrote and produced Stay With Me Baby for Lorraine Ellison, one of the decade's most compulsive vocal performances, before supervising a series of excellent releases by Howard Tate. His anthem-like recording, Get It While You Can, was later adopted by Janis Joplin, who covered several Ragovoy compositions including Piece Of My Heart, originally written for Erma Franklin. In the mid-60s he also became east coast A&R chief for Warner Brothers' then recently formed soul subsidiary, Loma, where he wrote songs for and produced artists including the Olympics, the Enchanters (ex-Garnet Mimms), Carl Hall, Lonnie Youngblood, Roy Redmond, Ben Aiken and (once again) Lorraine Ellison. Then in 1973 Ragovoy formed his own Rags production company and leased product to Epic, most notably that by Howard Tate and Lou Courtney, the latter's I'M IN NEED OF LOVE. In the late '70s/early '80s, Ragovoy began writing for and producing artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Dionne Warwick, Essra Mohawk, Major Harris and Peggi Blu. In 1988 he produced some songs for Irma Thomas' album that year for Rounder and his name still apears occasionally on the credits of songs performed by many different artists. In his book, Off The Record, Joe Smith (ex-Warner President and then President of Capitol/EMI) gave Ragovoy's major contribution to soul music long-overdue recognition when he said: 'You might not know him but he produced and wrote some of the best rhythm and blues of the sixties—and he's not black—he's a man with a sense of soul.

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