Don Covay was raised in DC and began his performing and recording careers here. That included a late-1950s stint as a member of The Rainbows, a DC doo-wop institution that featured soul legends Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart, and was a bellwether of a golden age of soul and R&B in the nation's capital.
Like Gaye and Stewart, Covay was taken under the wing of fellow Washingtonian Bo Diddley, in whose home studio the three honed their skills and contributed to Diddley's cutting-edge recordings. For all three, that association led to bigger and better opportunities beyond DC.
Musically, Covay found his lane by pointing his vehicle where he damn well pleased, usually toward the intersection of soul, funk, and rock music. He became one of the leading figures of the soul music explosion, probably best known as a songwriter who penned hits for a whole galaxy of soul, pop, and rock stars including Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, the Staples Singers, and Wanda Jackson.
He was also a powerful and immensely influential performer, whose vocal style was all but copied whole-cloth by legendary British Invasion singers like Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon, and Van Morrison, among others.