Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are in London for a gala celebration of their careers at Hammersmith Apollo tonight (June 29) in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. The duo's classic songs
Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are in London for a gala celebration of their careers at Hammersmith Apollo tonight (June 29) in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy. The duo's classic songs, such as "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "On Broadway," "Spanish Harlem," "Stand By Me," and countless others, will be performed by some of the artists who originally recorded them and other famous fans of their work.
Scheduled to take part in the tribute are Tom Jones, Meat Loaf, Ben E. King, Edwin Starr, Bob Geldof, David Gilmour, Paul Carrack, Jim Capaldi, Keith Emerson, John Lodge, Heather Small, Chris Rea, and erstwhile U.K. chart favorites such as Elkie Brooks, Leo Sayer, and Steve Harley.
The wisecracking duo keeps a light-hearted view of their memorable successes. "We thought of ourselves as being black," said Stoller, "and we were totally shocked when we passed a mirror." Adds Leiber, "We used to argue between ourselves as to which of us was the blackest." Asked who won, Stoller says, "We did."
Questioned about Elvis Presley, for whom they wrote extensively, Stoller says that "Hound Dog" is his least favorite of Presley's recordings of their songs, while "Love Me" and "Jailhouse Rock" are his personal picks. Stoller expressed a particular fondness for George Benson's cover of "On Broadway," and among other artists who write their own material, the pair make special mention of Bob Seger and Randy Newman.
Leiber also tells a celebrated Presley-related anecdote about receiving a document from Presley's then manager, "Colonel" Tom Parker. Studying the paperwork, Leiber was prompted to call Parker, as it contained a sheet with spaces for the songwriters' signatures, and nothing else. "What's wrong with that?" said Parker. "Nothing, but there seems to be a page missing," said Leiber. "What's missing?," Parker asked. "The contract!," Leiber exclaimed. "Oh," said Parker, "don't worry about that, we'll fill it in later."