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Songwriter Jerry Leiber Dies at 78
Rolling Stone ^ | 08/22/11 | ANDY GREENE

Posted on 08/22/2011 2:08:22 PM PDT by Borges

Jerry Leiber, one of the most important songwriters in the history of rock & roll – whose 60-year partnership with Mike Stoller produced "Stand By Me," "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Young Blood," "On Broadway," "Yakety-Yak" and countless other classics – has died of cardiopulmonary failure. He was 78.

"When Jerry and I started to write, we were writing to amuse ourselves," Stoller told Rolling Stone in 1990. "It was done out of a love of doing it. We got very lucky in the sense that at some point what we wrote also amused a lot of other people."

Leiber met Stoller in Los Angeles in 1950 when he was still a senior in high school. They had a mutual love of R&B, blues and pop, and began writing music together almost instantly, with Stoller mostly handling the music and Leiber mostly handling the lyrics. "Jerry was an idea machine," Stoller says in their 2009 memoir Hound Dog. "For every situation, Jerry had 20 ideas. As would-be songwriters, our interest was in black music and black music only. We wanted to write songs for black voices. When Jerry sang, he sounded black, so that gave us an advantage . . . His verbal vocabulary was all over the place – black, Jewish, theatrical, comical. He would paint pictures with words."

In the early days, they pulled 12-hour days writing on an upright piano in Stoller's house. "We're a unit," Leiber told Rolling Stone in 1990. "The instincts are very closely aligned. I could write, 'Take out the papers and the trash,' and he'll come up with 'Or you don't get no spending cash.'"

Within three years of meeting each other, Leiber and Stoller were the hottest songwriters in the business –writing hits for the Drifters, Coasters and the Robins and many other R&B groups of the era. In 1956, their career went to a higher level when Elvis Presley took "Hound Dog" – which they wrote for Big Mama Thornton four years earlier – and turned it into a gigantic hit.

Leiber was extremely irritated by the changes that Presley made to the original lyrics. "To this day I have no idea what that rabbit business is about," he said in 2009. "The song is not about a dog; it's about a man, a freeloading gigolo. Elvis' version makes no sense to me, and, even more irritatingly, it is not the song that Mike and I wrote. Of course, the fact that it sold more than seven million copies took the sting out of what seemed to be a capricious change of lyrics."

Despite their success with Presley, most of the acts that Leiber and Stoller worked with were black. "I felt black," Leiber told Rolling Stone in 1990. "I was as far as I was concerned. And I wanted to be black for lots of reasons. They were better musicians, they were better athletes, they were not uptight about sex, and they knew how to enjoy life better than most people."

Not all of their songs were as innocent as they seemed. "Pure and simple, 'Poison Ivy' [a 1959 hit they wrote for The Coasters] is a metaphor for a sexually transmitted disease – or the clap – hardly a topic for a song that hit the Top Ten in the Spring of 1959," Leiber said in 2009. "But the more we wrote, the less we understood why the public bought what it bought."

The hits continued into the early 1960s with such classics as "Stand By Me" and "Spanish Harlem," but when the Beatles broke in America in early 1964, the music industry changed very quickly. The duo never stopped working together, and in 1972 they produced "Stuck In The Middle With You," which was recorded by Stealers Wheel. In 1995, their catalog of hits was turned into the Broadway musical Smokey Joe's Cafe, and this past May, American Idol devoted an entire evening to their music.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: elvis; jerryleiber; leiberstoller; music; obit; rip

1 posted on 08/22/2011 2:08:27 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

Wow!


2 posted on 08/22/2011 2:11:45 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Borges
"I felt black," Leiber told Rolling Stone in 1990. "I was as far as I was concerned. And I wanted to be black for lots of reasons. They were better musicians, they were better athletes, they were not uptight about sex, and they knew how to enjoy life better than most people."

isn't this racist?

3 posted on 08/22/2011 2:23:15 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: the invisib1e hand
i guess "being black" is a state of mind.

So it's not about skin color after all.

Only "being white" is, I guess.

4 posted on 08/22/2011 2:24:13 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: the invisib1e hand

It does kind of sound like something Jimmy the Greek would have said.


5 posted on 08/22/2011 2:25:08 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Borges

He will live on in the music forever.


6 posted on 08/22/2011 2:26:07 PM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: Borges

Who knew?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHE-5s7v6GM&feature=related
Giuliano Palma & The BlueBeaters - Poison Ivy

Rest in peace Mr. Leiber


7 posted on 08/22/2011 2:26:36 PM PDT by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life :o)
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To: Borges

Poison Ivy was a song about the clap...I never would
have guessed/Sarc

Some great songs that team wrote

Time Marches On

RIP


8 posted on 08/22/2011 2:28:27 PM PDT by Harold Shea (RVN `70 - `71)
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To: Borges

Bossa Nova Baby: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-yZifpgCR0


9 posted on 08/22/2011 2:30:37 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Borges

Lucky Lips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zagl7eD6MYE


10 posted on 08/22/2011 2:35:30 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Borges

Take out the papers and the trash
Or you don’t get no spendin’ cash
If you don’t scrub that kitchen floor
You ain’t gonna rock and roll no more
Yakety yak (don’t talk back)

Just finish cleanin’ up your room
Let’s see that dust fly with that broom
Get all that garbage out of sight
Or you don’t go out Friday night
Yakety yak (don’t talk back)

You just put on your coat and hat
And walk yourself to the laundromat
And when you finish doin’ that
Bring in the dog and put out the cat
Yakety yak (don’t talk back)

Don’t you give me no dirty looks
Your father’s hip; he knows what cooks
Just tell your hoodlum friend outside
You ain’t got time to take a ride
Yakety yak (don’t talk back)

Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak
Yakety yak, yakety yak

Rest in peace, Mr. Leiber.


11 posted on 08/22/2011 2:36:18 PM PDT by Fresh Wind ('People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook.' Richard M. Nixon)
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To: Borges
and in 1972 they produced "Stuck In The Middle With You," which was recorded by Stealers Wheel.

And launched the career of Quentin Tarantino.

12 posted on 08/22/2011 2:38:44 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: the invisib1e hand

Why didn’t he didn’t say anything about rythmn?


13 posted on 08/22/2011 2:39:50 PM PDT by Slump Tester (What if I'm pregnant Teddy? Errr-ahh -Calm down Mary Jo, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it)
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To: dfwgator
And launched the career of Quentin Tarantino.

I knew there had to be a dark side.

14 posted on 08/22/2011 2:42:35 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: Borges
Ben E. King:

Stand By Me

Lyrics Songwriters: Jerry Leiber;Mike Stoller;Ben King

When the night has come and the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we see

No, I won't be afraid, oh, I won't be afraid

Just as long as you stand, stand by me

So darling, darling, stand by me,

oh, stand by me

Oh, stand, stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall

Or the mountain should crumble to the sea

I won't cry, I won't cry, no, I won't shed a tear

Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling, stand by me

Darling, darling, stand by me

Whenever you're in trouble

Won't you stand by me, oh, stand by me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbg7YoXiKn0

15 posted on 08/22/2011 2:45:02 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: Borges
So maybe some critics of rock 'n' roll were correct in their assessment that it paved the road for generations of degenerates.

Who would have guessed?

16 posted on 08/22/2011 2:53:37 PM PDT by logician2u
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To: Borges
"The duo never stopped working together, and in 1972 they produced "Stuck In The Middle With You," which was recorded by Stealers Wheel."

The late, great demented-alkie-but-forever-brilliant Gerry Rafferty (and Joe Egan) wrote this song. It wasn't a Brill Building product, per se.

17 posted on 08/22/2011 3:11:31 PM PDT by StAnDeliver (Not mine, not all that clever, but best sketch ever...)
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To: Borges

In my puppyhood seeing “Leiber-Stoller” credits on a piece of round vinyl was like magic. Who are these geniuses, I thought.


18 posted on 08/22/2011 3:35:55 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Borges

Everyone should take a few minutes and look around here:

http://www.leiberstoller.com/Discography.html

That’s what success looks like.

RIP Jerry Lieber, and thank you.


19 posted on 08/22/2011 3:47:59 PM PDT by bigbob
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To: Borges

“Ruby Ruby” as performed by Donald Fagan is way up there on my favorites list.


20 posted on 08/22/2011 3:48:51 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew (minds change)
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To: Borges

Coasters were the best there ever were.


21 posted on 08/22/2011 3:49:29 PM PDT by redroller
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To: Borges

RIP

Do you know about this too?

http://www.myspace.com/wreckingcrewfilm

Seems like you might enjoy...
cheers!


22 posted on 08/22/2011 3:55:48 PM PDT by spankalib
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To: Borges

Always liked Bad Company’s version of “Young Blood”


23 posted on 08/22/2011 4:00:50 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Borges

Dion “Ruby Baby”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRjviO8negQ


24 posted on 08/22/2011 4:01:39 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Borges

“Down Home Girl”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp2q3yK8Lrs


25 posted on 08/22/2011 4:02:22 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Revolting cat!

Down in Miami Springs, at a place called the Flick...where J Buffet was the opening act to warm the crowd up...Dion played Abraham Martin and John. It was the first time...I remember, that I heard an actual voice sing. He wouldn’t do Purple Haze after Jimmy died...
Dion singing that song taught me
I’d be doing something else for life...

There were no cell phones to record my life then. I wish I could share it with you all.


26 posted on 08/22/2011 4:22:19 PM PDT by spankalib
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To: redroller

I grew up on their stuff without knowing even who they were. Yakity-yak, Charlie Brown, Along Came Jones, Working in a Coal Mine, Poison Ivy, Youngblood, and my favorite Down in Mexico.

Their version of If I Had a Hammer is amazing and haunting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUlV2ki1w1k

You are right - they are the best.


27 posted on 08/22/2011 4:45:03 PM PDT by Free Vulcan (Obama/Biden '12: No hope and chump change.)
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To: Borges
Within three years of meeting each other, Leiber and Stoller were the hottest songwriters in the business –writing hits for the Drifters, Coasters and the Robins and many other R&B groups of the era.

Rock trivia: The Coasters and The Robins were the same group, The Robins transitioning into The Coasters.

28 posted on 08/22/2011 5:13:14 PM PDT by metesky (Brethren, leave us go amongst them! - Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond, The Searchers)
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To: Borges
In 1956, their career went to a higher level when Elvis Presley took "Hound Dog" – which they wrote for Big Mama Thornton four years earlier – and turned it into a gigantic hit.

I have heard that version a number of times and think that it is much, much superior to the way that Elvis treated it.

29 posted on 08/22/2011 5:58:44 PM PDT by OldPossum
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To: Borges

Interesting, if arguable, that so many of the Leiber-Stoller compositions had to wait for the second, third, etc, version to get a definitive recording. Examples: “Down Home Girl”, “One Kiss Led to Another”.


30 posted on 08/22/2011 6:45:57 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: Borges
My favorite Leiber/Stoller song.

RIP Jerry and thanks for all of the great music you gave us. You done good!

31 posted on 08/22/2011 6:50:25 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Americans need to wean their government off of its dependence on foreign money.)
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To: Free Vulcan

You somehow managed to miss their best song, which was Run Red, Run.


32 posted on 08/22/2011 6:58:28 PM PDT by redroller
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To: redroller

Did not know about that song. Dad or my aunt must have never had a A or B side of that one. I’ll have to dig around on Youtube.


33 posted on 08/22/2011 7:23:31 PM PDT by Free Vulcan (Obama/Biden '12: No hope and chump change.)
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To: Borges

RIP.


34 posted on 08/22/2011 7:39:40 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~"This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Amber Lamps !"~~)
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To: FlingWingFlyer
My favorite Leiber/Stoller song ("Just Tell Her Jim Said 'Hello").

This song might be part of the same story.

35 posted on 08/28/2011 8:17:51 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Fiji Hill

LOL! I think you might be right! Thanks!


36 posted on 08/28/2011 9:24:00 AM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (If the Tea Party was a bunch of Islamofascist "rebels", would the state run "media" like us too?)
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To: Borges
“Music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows.”

- Napoleon Bonaparte

37 posted on 09/07/2011 10:52:02 AM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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