Jerry Leiber (right) with Elvis Presley and Mike Stoller at MGM Studios in 1957 (Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Pop music lyricist Jerry Leiber, whose partnership with Mike Stoller created such timeless hits as “Jailhouse Rock” and “There Goes My Baby,” and who helped shape the identity and commercial potential of early rock ‘n roll, died Monday of cardio pulmonary failure, Rolling Stone is reporting. He was 78.
A dual member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Baltimore native helped create the “crossover” phenomenon with mainstream hits for black artists like The Coasters (“Young Blood,” “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown”) and Ben E. King (“Stand By Me”).
Other definitive songs include “Love Potion No. 9,” and a pair of songs that became eternally tied to Elvis Presley.
In 1956, Presley snatched up their track “Hound Dog,” written four years earlier for Big Mama Thornton. A year later, Presley growled to “Jailhouse Rock,” a genre-defining song released alongside the film of the same name.
The 1960s were kind to Leiber/Stoller with a continued parade of hits including The Drifters’ “On Broadway,” Ben E. King’s “Spanish Harlem” and “Ruby Baby” byDion. In 1969, the pair wrote and produced Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?”
Their songs are pop music standards and are regularly covered by other artists and featured on television shows such as “American Idol,” which dedicated an entire episode in season 10 to their catalog.
Their legacy was further cemented in 1995 when “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber & Stoller” opened on Broadway. The show comprised of 40 songs from the duo and was nominated for seven Tony Awards before closing five years later.
Born less than a month apart in 1933, Mike Stoller still lives in Los Angeles.