Songwriter Jerry Leiber Passes

Mike Stoller (L), Elvis Presley (center), and Jerry Leiber (R) at MGM Studios in 1957. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jerry Leiber, Songwriters Hall of Fame Member and lyricist for legendary songwriting team Leiber & Stoller, passed away in Los Angeles yesterday (8/22) at the age of 78.

Leiber met Mike Stoller in Los Angeles in 1950 and the pair forged one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in history, penning (or co-penning) numerous R&B and early rock classics such as “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” and “Love Potion No. 9.” Elvis Presley recorded numerous Leiber/Stoller compositions in addition to “Hound Dog” including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Loving You,” “Don’t,” and “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care).” The pair also enjoyed a successful partnership with the Drifters, who recorded “There Goes My Baby.” Drifters singer Ben E. King enjoyed solo hits with “Spanish Harlem,” which Leiber wrote with Phil Spector, and the Leiber/Stoller anthem “Stand By Me.”

Leiber’s work touched Nashville on occasion, through his co-writing with Billy Edd Wheeler. That collaboration resulted in the hit Johnny Cash/June Carter duet “Jackson,”  “After Taxes” (Billy Edd Wheeler), “The Rev. Mr. Black,” (The Kingston Trio), and “Tonight I’m Singing Just For You” (Billy Edd Wheeler). Leiber’s hits have been cut by George Jones, Buck Owens, Ray Stevens, Ronnie McDowell, Bill Anderson, Wanda Jackson, and many more.

“He was my friend, my buddy, my writing partner for 61 years,” says Mike Stoller. “We met when we were 17 years old. He had a way with words. There was nobody better.  I’m going to miss him.”

Leiber is survived by his three sons Jed, Oliver, and Jake and two granddaughters.

 

“The songwriting and music publishing community today joins millions of Americans in remembering songwriters Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford. Jerry Leiber brought us classic hits with Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog’ and the Clovers’ ‘Love Potion No. 9’, which remain a jubilant window to the fifties and sixties. Rarely does a songwriter capture the mood and spirit of a generation so prolifically. Nick Ashford created enduring Motown classics including ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and ‘Solid As a Rock’, which capture fusions of jazz, funk and gospel. Jerry Leiber’s and Nick Ashford’s contributions to American rock ‘n’ roll and soul are nothing short of legendary. The songwriting and music publishing community will never forget their timeless talent.” —NMPA President David Israelite

 

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