Songwriter Jerry Leiber passed away today after a lengthy illness. He was 78.
Leiber along with Mike Stoller comprised one half of the one of the greatest songwriting teams of the 20th century. Leiber wrote the lyrics and Stoller wrote the music that launched the careers of Elvis Presley (“Hound Dog“, “Jailhouse Rock“), The Coasters (“Yakety Yak“, “Searchin’“) and The Drifters (“Spanish Harlem” with Phil Spector, “On Broadway” with Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil). Leiber and Stoller also collaborated with Drifters’ lead singer Ben E. King on “Stand By Me“. But my favorite Leiber-Stoller composition is “Kansas City” which was a number one hit for Wilbert Harrison in 1959. When Leiber-Stoller weren’t writing hits, they were producing them. The last hit they produced was “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel back in 1972.
At the risk of sounding cliche, they don’t make songwriters, much less songwriting teams, like they once did.