b. Donald Randolph, 24th March 1938, Orangeburg, South Carolina, U.S.A.
Don Covay is a hugely underrated Soul Singer.
He was the son of a Baptist preacher, a preacher who passed away when Don was eight years of age.
Later, relocating to Washington D.C. (during the early 1950s), Don sang in the group the Cherry Keys, his family's gospel ensemble.
His career took off in 1957 after he became part of the Little Richard Revue.
bip bop bip - 1957 / swingin' in the kitchen - 1958
'Bip Bop Bip' b/w 'Silver Dollar' was released as a 45 on Atlantic Records in 1957, which was produced by Little Richard, on which Don was given the name of 'Pretty Boy'.
The single, also featured Little Richard's backing band the Upsetters.
A year later, singing as part of the group Pretty Boy Lee Sims Orchestra, he released 'Switchin' In The Kitchen' for the Big imprint.
the popeye waddle - 1962 / temptation was too strong - 1966
Don recorded for several labels, including Blaze, Sue, Big Top, Fire, Arnold, Fleetwood, Columbia, Epic and Scepter, releasing 'Popeye Waddle' b/w 'One Little Boy Had Money' in 1962 for Cameo Parkway, which became a hit.
Don was, by now, recording solo material, and material under the name of Don Covay and the Goodtimers.
He penned the U.S. number 1 single 'Pony Time' for Chubby Checker, wrote a hit song called 'I'm Hanging Up My Heart for You', for the Soul singer Solomon Burke, and wrote for Gladys Knight & The Pips, penning 'Letter Full of Tears', which made the top 20.
Don formed partnerships with several associates including Horace Ott and Ronnie Miller.
In 1964, when he signed to the Rosemart label.
His debut single there with the Goodtimers, 'Mercy Mercy' featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar.
The following year, Jimi Hendrix played again on the follow up single 'Take This Hurt Off Me' b/w 'Please Don't Let Me Know'.
mercy! - 1965 / see-saw - 1966
This led to a label move to Atlantic Records, and several R&B hits followed, including 'See Saw' which charted in 1965, which was co-written with Steve Cropper and recorded at Stax, 'Sookie Sookie' b/w 'Watching The Late Late Show' in 1966 and ''Shing-Aling' in 1967.
the soul clan
the house of blue light - 1969 / different strokes for different folks - 1971
Don remained at Atlantic Records until 1970, recording solo material, along with material under the name of Don Covay and the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band (including 'Everything I Do Gon' Be Funky' in 1970).
Don wrote the song 'Chain Of Fools' for Aretha Franklin (which she won a Grammy for), along with many other compositions for the likes of Steppenwolf, Bobby Womack, The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, and The Small Faces.
Don signed to the Janus imprint in 1971, and recorded 'Sweet Thang' and 'Daddy Please Don't Go Out', before relocating to Mercury Records in 1972, where he combined recording with A & R duties.
super dude 1 - 1973 / hot blood - 1975
'Superdude 1' was released in 1973, reunited the singer with Horace Ott.
travelin' in heavy traffic - 1976 / funky yoyo - 1977
Don left Mercury in 1975, moving on to the Philadelphia International label (for 'Travelin' In Heavy Traffic' in 1976), U-Von (for 'Back To The Roots (Part 1)' in 1977) and Newman (for 'Badd Boy' in 1980) labels, whilst Randy Crawford and Bonnie Raitt recorded some of his back catalogue.
In 1993, the Rhythm & Blues Foundation honoured the singer-song-writer with one of its Pioneer Awards.
In the mid 1990's Don Covay suffered a debilitating stroke, from which he gradually recovered.
A tribute album, 'Back To The Streets: Celebrating The Music Of Don Covay', was recorded by several artists including Chuck Jackson, Ben E. King, Bobby Womack, Robert Cray and Todd Rundgren, and was released by Shanachie in 1994.
Don is still active, composing new songs to the present day.
adlib - 2000
His most recent album, 'Adlib', released in 2000, was his first album in 25 years.
Mercy! (Atlantic Records 1965)
See Saw (Atlantic Records 1966)
with the Lemon Jefferson Blues Band:
House Of Blue Lights (Atlantic Records 1969)
Different Strokes For Different Folks (Atlantic Records 1971)
Superdude 1 (Mercury Records 1973)
Hot Blood (Mercury Records 1975)
Travellin' In Heavy Traffic (Philadelphia International Records 1976)
Funky Yo Yo (Versatile Records 1977)
Adlib (Cannonball Records 2000)