Howard Tate was born August 13, 1939 in Macon Georgia, but his family relocated to Philadelphia when he was just a few years old. In his teens he befriended Garnet Mimms and joined him in his gospel group called The Gainors. Mimms also introduced him to songwriter and producer Jerry Ragovoy who recorded Tate and secured a deal at Verve Records, who released the album Get It While You Can, and a total of nine singles between 1964 and 1968. Three of the singles became top 20 rhythm & blues hits, including “Get It While You Can” which was later recorded by Janis Joplin. In 1972 he released a self-titled album for Atlantic, also produced by Ragavoy.
He later walked away from his career, feeling that he was not receiving the royalties he deserved, and he became an insurance salesman in suburban Philadelphia.
Then, his daughter died in a fire, and his marriage fell apart. He began drinking heavily, then became addicted to crack, and ended up homeless in Camden, N.J. Ragavoy even though that he had died. But by the mid-1990s Tate had overcome his addictions and become a minister. In 2003 he released the album “Rediscovered,” with Mr. Ragovoy once again writing and producing, and the album was nominated for a Grammy for best contemporary blues record. Over the next five years Mr. Tate toured and released four more albums.
He died on December 2, 2011 at his apartment in Burlington, N.J at the age of 72.