Jerry Leiber, the lyricist who, with his partner, Mike Stoller, wrote some of the most enduring classics in the history of rock ’n’ roll, including “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand By Me” and “On Broadway,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. The cause was cardio-pulmonary failure, said Randy Poe, president of Leiber & Stoller Music Publishing.
The team of Leiber and Stoller was formed in 1950, when Mr. Leiber was still a student at Fairfax High in Los Angeles and Mr. Stoller, a fellow rhythm-and-blues fanatic, was a freshman at Los Angeles City College. With Mr. Leiber contributing catchy, street-savvy lyrics and Mr. Stoller, a pianist, composing infectious, bluesy tunes, they set about writing songs with black singers and groups in mind.
In 1952, they wrote “Hound Dog” for the blues singer Big Mama Thornton. The song became an enormous hit for Elvis Presley in 1956 and made Leiber and Stoller the hottest songwriting team in rock ’n’ roll. With Phil Spector, Mr. Leiber wrote the Drifters hit “Spanish Harlem.”
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a 1954 hit written for the Robins, became the title of a Broadway musical based on the Leiber and Stoller songbook. “Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have written some of the most spirited and enduring rock ’n’ roll songs," the hall said in a statement when they were inducted. “Leiber and Stoller advanced rock ’n’ roll to new heights of wit and musical sophistication.”
“Often I would have a start, two or four lines,” Mr. Leiber told Robert Palmer, the author of “Baby, That Was Rock & Roll: The Legendary Leiber and Stoller” (1978). Inspired, the partners went back to Mr. Stoller’s house and wrote “Hound Dog.”
I work fast. Atlantic Records, which had bought the Leiber and Stoller song “Ruby Baby” and “Fools Fall in Love” for the Drifters, signed them to an unusual agreement that allowed them to produce for other labels. The golden age of Leiber and Stoller began.
Their seemingly endless list of hit songs from this period included “Love Potion No. 9” for the Clovers (later a hit for the Searchers).
In the mid-1960s, Mr. Leiber and Mr. Stoller concentrated on production. With Mr. Stoller and David Ritz, Mr. Leiber wrote a 2009 memoir, “Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography.”
However if rock 'n' roll can be accredited to one songwriting team, it would undoubtedly be Leiber and Stoller.
(Mike Stoller to Rolling Stone)
Rolling Stone reports that Jerry Leiber—who, along with writing partner Mike Stoller was responsible for countless rock ‘n’ roll classics that included “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand By Me,” and “Yakety-Yak”—has died at 78.
Leiber met Stoller when he was a high-school senior in Los Angeles. The duo wrote hit songs for Coasters, the Robins and the Drifters before Elvis Presley made “Hound Dog” a hit. Leiber and Stoller penned “Hound Dog” for a different act four years before Elvis’ success, and Leiber wasn’t happy with Elvis’ version or the liberties he took with it.
In 2006, Paste included Leiber and Stoller in a list of the 100 greatest living songwriters. By decade’s end, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller had not only helped midwife the birth of rock ’n’ roll as the writers of hits for Elvis Presley, The Coasters and numerous others, but had changed the very nature of the music business as the industry’s very first “independent” producers. Mentors to Phil Spector, Carole King and virtually every noted songwriter to emerge from the Brill Building in the ’60s, Leiber and Stoller’s “We didn’t write songs, we wrote records” legacy remains a truly daunting one.