by Robert Wilkinson
One of the greatest voices of rock and roll died yesterday. Today we celebrate the life and work of the legendary Jerry Leiber.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jerry Leiber, with partner Mike Stoller, wrote some of the most famous songs of the second half of the 20th century over a 60 year collaboration. Jerry was the lyricist for such amazing songs as "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Love Me," "King Creole," "Yakety Yak," "Searchin'," "Young Blood," "Love Potion #9," "Kansas City," "Charlie Brown," "Drip Drop," "Poison Ivy," "Stand By Me," "Spanish Harlem," "Smokey Joe's Cafe," "Riot in Cell Block #9," "On Broadway," and the immortal Christmas song, "Santa Claus Is Back in Town," among the many that shaped a couple of generations of musical fans.
They created the hits of the 50s and 60s, and their songs were done by many of the greatest of rock and rollers, including Elvis Presley, Dion, the Coasters, the Drifters and Ben E. King. They created a joyous new musical songwriting style by combining blues, jazz, and pop in a sound that captivated millions over decades. They also produced more major hits than I can list here.
From an online obit,
"The music world lost today one of its greatest poet laureates," said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "Jerry not only wrote the words that everyone was singing, he led the way in how we verbalized our feelings about the societal changes we were living with in post-World War II life. Appropriately, his vehicles of choice were the emerging populist musical genres of rhythm and blues and then rock and roll..."
... Over their career, they had 15 No. 1 hits in a variety of genres by 10 different artists. Among the performers who sang their songs were Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Otis Redding.
Here are a few of the songs that made the team of Leiber and Stoller immortals:
From the Milton Berle show in 1956, Elvis doing "Hound Dog."
From the movie, here's "Jailhouse Rock"
From Elvis' 1968 comeback special, here's the King performing "Love Me"
By the Coasters, their timeless teen age lament, "Yakety Yak"
Also from the Coasters, the very funny "Charlie Brown"
From 1959, the Coasters doing "Poison Ivy"
Here's the great Ben E. King, ex-lead singer of the Drifters in their immortal Atlantic era, doing his signature hit, "Stand By Me"
Here's Ben E. King doing another of his greatest, "Spanish Harlem"
Jay and the Americans doing the very funny "Come A Little Bit Closer"
We'll close today with one of my faves when I was too young to mention. Here's Elvis in "Jailhouse Rock" doing the Leiber-Stoller hit, "(You're so square) Baby I Don't Care." For another great version, here's Buddy Holly doing "You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)"
You can check out his entire song catalog at the Jerry Leiber site at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
So I'll send up a big toast to one of the truly great lyricists of our times, the immortal Jerry Leiber. RIP, and tell Elvis and Buddy I said hi.....
Copyright © 2011 Robert Wilkinson