Cover illustration of Popular Science magazine, June 1930
Jerry Leiber passed away a few days ago at the age of 78. As one half of the writing team of Leiber & Stoller, he co-wrote songs that shaped the sound of modern pop and rock & roll. They were responsible for hits by the Coasters ("Yakety Yak"), the Drifters ("Fools Fall in Love"), the Clovers ("Love Potion No. 9"), http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifElvis Presley ("Hound Dog"), and others(you can see their absurdly long song list here). Their experiences are woven into the tapestry of 20th century music, exemplified by stories like Leiber's trip to Europe with his wife in 1956. They returned to the US on the Andrea Doria and survived its famous collision with another ship. When Leiber finally made his way back to New York, Mike Stoller greeted him at the pier to tell him that a singer named Elvis Presley had taken "Hound Dog" to number one on the pop charts. Leiber's response: "Elvis who?"
In my recent dabbling into the pop and rock of the late '50s and early '60s, I've come across some not-so-famous Leiber & Stoller tunes that have become favorites like the Shangri-Las' "Bulldog" and the Hollies' version of "Poison Ivy". Best of all may be the Leiber & Stoller songs that Elvis did - I've been collecting the works Elvis in a totally wrong order, which means I've been buying his movie soundtracks like Viva Las Vegas and Roustabout. The latter film has the great Leiber & Stoller tune called "Little Egypt", and the former has a duet with Ann-Margret called "You're the Boss". I think that next I need to get that Coasters box set that Rhino Records put out - that's got some of the best Leiber & Stoller songs, and I'm not that familiar with most of them.
"You're the Boss" by Elvis Presley with Ann-Margret