Mike Stoller & Elvis Presley & Jerry Leiber at MGM Studios in 1957
Jerry Leiber, the lyricist who with his partner Mike Stoller wrote some of the greatest rock’n’roll songs ever including ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Stand By Me’, and ‘On Broadway’ died yesterday (Monday) in Los Angeles. He was 78.
Through their effervescent songs that both celebrated and defined the twin births of rhythm’n’blues and rock’n’roll, jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller not only documented the emerging 50s teen soundscape but created it too.
In 1952 Leiber and Stoller wrote ‘Hound Dog’ for the earthy blues singer Big Mama Thornton. The song became an enormous smash for Elvis Presley in 1956 and made Leiber and Stoller the most happening songwriting team in rock’n’roll. They later wrote ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Loving You’, ‘Don’t’, ‘Treat Me Nice’, ‘King Creole’ and other songs for Elvis, despite disliking El’s interpretation of ‘Hound Dog’.
Their hits for the Drifters pictured New York like Chuck Berry pictured America, classic cuts like ‘On Broadway’ written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and ‘Stand By Me’ with Ben E. King. With Phil Spector, Jerry Leiber wrote the Drifters hit ‘Spanish Harlem’.
They wrote a bunch of hits for The Coasters that raucously celebrated the fun of youth, including ‘Charlie Brown’, ‘Young Blood’ with Doc Pomus, ‘Searchin’’, ‘Poison Ivy’ and ‘Yakety Yak’.
And their work was covered by Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Barbra Streisand, Edith Piaf, Aretha Franklin, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
In 1969 Peggy Lee – who had recorded their song ‘I’m a Woman’ in 1963 – recorded the Lieber/Stoller song ‘Is that All There Is?’
Well, it wasn’t then but it is now.
Elvis Presley Milton Berle Show Jun 5th 1956: Hound Dog (Leiber/Stoller)
Elvis 1957: Jailhouse Rock (Leiber/Stoller)
Elvis 1958: King Creole (Leiber/Stoller)
Elvis from King Creole 1968: Trouble (Leiber/Stoller). Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller’s nifty re-write of Willie Dixon’s Howlin’ Wolf classic ‘Evil’.
John Lennon The Old Grey Whistle Test April 18th 1975: Stand By Me (Leiber/Stoller/King)
Jerry Leiber April 25th 1933 – August 22nd 2011. Rest In Peace.
And thank you, sir.