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- Posted on Jul 16th 2011 12:41PM by Dan Reilly
Among his many hits, some of Ragovoy's most memorable were 'Piece of My Heart' and 'Time Is on My Side,' which were covered by Joplin and the Stones, respectively. Joplin also recorded his songs 'Try (Just a Little Harder),' 'Cry Baby,' 'Get It While You Can' and 'My Baby.' Ragovoy also collaborated on a track written specifically for her, 'I'm Gonna Rock My Way to Heaven,' but she was never able to record it before her death in 1970 at age 27.
Ragovoy got his start in the industry as a music buyer for Philadelphia appliance store Tregoobs, and he and a coworker formed a label, Grand, to record the Castelles' 1953 doo-wop hit 'My Girl Awaits Me,' which sold 100,000 copies.
After a stint at Chancellor Records, where he arranged songs for Frankie Avalon, Ragovoy moved to New York with the intention of becoming a Broadway songwriter. In 1962, he penned and produced 'A Wonderful Dream' for the Majors and he co-wrote 'Cry Baby' with Bert Berns in 1963 for Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters. The song hit No. 4 on the Billboard charts.
Ragovoy originally composed 'Time Is on My Side' for trombonist Kai Winding, and the song was covered in 1964 by Irma Thomas and in 1965 by the Rolling Stones. The track gave them their first Top 10 hit in the United States and they would later perform it on their first appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.'
'Piece of My Heart,' another collaboration with Berns, was originally recorded by Erma Franklin, Aretha's older sister, in 1967. Joplin's version was released the following year on 'Cheap Thrills,' the second album from Big Brother and the Holding Company.
In addition to those popular hits, Ragovoy worked with acclaimed but, by comparison, less-successful acts such as Lorraine Ellison and Howard Tate. He also collaborated with such luminaries as Barry White, Bonnie Raitt and Dionne Warwick. In 1973, he won a Grammy for producing the cast recording of the Broadway musical 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope.'
Ragovoy is survived by his wife, Beverly, a sister, two daughters and a granddaughter.