Don Covay, a soul singer who recorded genre-defining 1960s classics such as “Mercy, Mercy” and “See Saw” and who wrote the song “Chain of Fools” for Aretha Franklin, died Jan. 31 at a hospital in Franklin Square, N.Y. He was 76.
The cause was complications from a stroke, said a daughter, Ursula Covay Parkes. Mr. Covay lived in Queens.
Mr. Covay’s career traversed nearly the entire spectrum of rhythm-and-blues music, from doo-wop to funk. As a teenager, he had been a member of the Washington-based doo-wop group the Rainbows.
The Rolling Stones covered Mr. Covay’s 1964 hit “Mercy, Mercy,” credited to Don Covay and the Goodtimers and featuring a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix on lead guitar. Mick Jagger borrowed the nasal vocal phrasing and brash swagger from Mr. Covay’s original. In the song, Mr. Covay begs his woman not to leave, claiming that he will “work two jobs seven days a week and bring my money home to you.”
He later recorded the driving “See Saw” (1965) — with its memorable refrain, “your love is like a see saw, going up, down, up, down, like a see saw” — at Stax studios in Memphis with Booker T & the MGs.
Don Covay, who wrote the hit “Mercy, Mercy,” has died at age 76.
Mr. Covay, who had co-written both songs, had already found success as a songwriter. He wrote “You Can Run (But You Can’t Hide)” for singer Jerry Butler and “I’m Hanging Up My Heart for You” for singer Solomon Burke, both recorded in 1962. He also wrote “Letter Full of Tears” for Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1961.
His material remained a staple of the rock repertoire. Hard-rock band Steppenwolf had a version of Mr. Covay’s composition “Sookie Sookie” in 1968, and the J. Geils Band recorded the Covay ballad “The Usual Place” in 1971.
Most memorably, Mr. Covay wrote “Chain of Fools” (1968) for Franklin in 15 minutes when the singer needed one more piece for a recording session at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. . PstC …… Don't know how I missed this in the news but another great loss to soul music