Gerry Coffin, one of pop’s greatest songwriters, as well as the former husband of Carole King, died on Thursday at the age of 75. No cause of death has been confirmed.
With King, Coffin has penned a series of hits during the 1960s. Following their marriage in 1959 (when he was 20, and King was just 17), they became part of the Brill Building songwriting collective, which would also include other notable songwriters including Burt Barcharach and Hal David, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. The duo’s breakthrough came in 1961, when their song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” was recorded by the Shirelles and hit number one. The song was later covered by King on her 1971 album Tapestry. Other hits from Coffin and King include “the Loco-Motion” (Little Eva and later Grand Funk Railroad), “Pleasant Valley Sunday” (the Monkees) and (You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin, and later again King herself on the Tapestry album).
Coffin and King’s partnership imploded following their 1968 divorce, but they continued to work together afterward. Goffin went on to co-write other hits in the 1970s and on. They include “Theme from Mahogany” (Diana Ross), “Saving All My Love for You” (Whitney Houston) and “So Sad the Song” (Gladys Knight and the Pips). His later collaborations included songwriters Barry Mann, Michael Masser, and at one time, he hired a then-unknown Kelly Clarkson for demo work, prior to her audition to American Idol.
In a statement, King had described Goffin as her “first love” and “a dynamic force whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come”. The two were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Goffin is survived by his wife Michelle, five children and four grandchildren.