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Soul singer Howard Tate dies at 72

In this Aug. 1, 2003 file photo, soul

In this Aug. 1, 2003 file photo, soul singer Howard Tate, 63, poses for a picture during an interview at his home in Vincentown, N.J. Photo Credit: AP

Soul singer Howard Tate, who got a second chance at a musical career three decades after being derailed by disputes with industry executives, personal tragedy and drug addiction, has died at age 72.

Tate died Friday of natural causes at his apartment in Burlington City, N.J., county medical examiner's spokesman Ralph Shrom said.

Tate was born in Macon, Ga., and grew up in Philadelphia, where as a teenager he sang with the doo-wop group The Gainors. He was a rising star in the music world who later suffered through decades of extreme darkness.

In the late 1960s and early '70s, Tate had three top 20 R&B hits, including "Get It While You Can," written by his longtime producer Jerry Ragovoy and made more famous by Janis Joplin. Ragovoy, who died this year, saw Tate as the artist who gave voice to the sounds he wanted to make.

But within a decade, Tate had walked away from his career, disillusioned that he wasn't getting the royalties he thought he deserved. He took up a new career selling insurance in suburban Philadelphia.

"I got rid of my own records, and I didn't listen to other people's records because I didn't want to flash back," he told The Associated Press in a 2003 interview.

Then, he said, tragedy struck: A daughter died in a fire, and his marriage fell apart. He drank heavily, then became addicted to crack and other drugs and ended up homeless in Camden.

By the mid-1990s, he got clean and decided to become a minister. He eventually led a congregation in Willingboro.

Around that time, Tate's 1967 album "Get It While You Can" was reissued on CD. On the liner notes, Ragovoy wrote that the singer was probably dead.

In 2001, a chance meeting between Tate and a former member of Harold Melvin's Blue Notes tipped off the music world that he was alive.

And in 2003, he returned to the recording studio -- Ragovoy's Atlanta studio -- to make "Rediscovered," which was nominated for a Grammy for best contemporary blues record the next year.

-- AP

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