Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One of the greatest songwriters in rock history — Jerry Leiber — is dead

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Half of one of the greatest songwriting teams in rock history is dead. Jerry Leiber, who paired with Mike Stoller to create many iconic early rock 'n' roll hits, died at age 78 yesterday in Los Angeles. Leiber and Stoller were key figures in early rock history, writing hit after hit after hit — as their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bio puts it, while “advanc[ing] rock & roll to new heights of wit and musical sophistication" in the genre’s first decade — for Elvis Presley, the Coasters, the Drifters, Ben E. King, and a slew of others. In rock’s early formative years, it seemed as if Leiber and Stoller had at least one hit in the Top 10 at all times.

Leiber and Stoller also became record producers; in fact, they were the first truly independent record producers, creating — again — one hit after another; they were also crucial in legendary producer Phil Spector’s development while he assisted the duo in the early ‘60s.

Leiber and Stoller started writing songs together in 1950 when they were both 17. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Here is a partial list of hit songs written by Leiber and Stoller:

"Stand by Me" and “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King
“Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton, then made famous by Elvis Presley
“Jailhouse Rock” by Presley
"Kansas City" by Wilbert Harrison
“Love Potion #9” by the Clovers, later by the Searchers
“Ruby Baby” by the Drifters, later by Dion
"On Broadway," “Fools Fall In Love,” “There Goes My Baby” by the Drifters
“Smokey Joe’s Café” and “Riot in Cell Block #9” by the Robins, who became the Coasters.
“Charlie Brown,” “Young Blood” (written with Doc Pomus), “Searchin’,” Yakety Yak,” “Poison Ivy,” “Along Came Jones” and “Little Egypt” by the Coasters.

Thank you for the great songs, Mr. Leiber. Thank you very much.

Leiber (left) and Stoller with some impudent young punk
  • Leiber (left) and Stoller with some impudent young punk

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