Jerry Leiber (of Leiber/Stoller songwriting team) dead at 78


The number of hits these guys cranked out is just staggering… “There Goes My Baby”, “Yakety Yak”, “Charlie Brown”, “Stand By Me”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Love Potion #9”, “Lucky Lips”, “On Broadway”, “Spanish Harlem”, and those are just some of them.

Of course Smokey Joe’s Café was a revue of their songs and is one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history (2,036 performances). RIP Jerry… the world can only hope to have as much talent in one person again.

Leiber and Stoller were great.

I’m enough of a fan of the whole Brill Building era, that I’ve always been able to rattle off the writing credits of the major songwriting contributors to that whole scene. Leiber and Stoller have always been a favorite.

“Poison Ivy” and “Don’t” are two of my favorite Leiber and Stoller songs.

I was astonished when I heard his age: I’d have thought he was in his 90s considering how many hits he had in the 50s.

The cast recording of Smokey Joes Cafe is one of the “take to a deserted island” selections. Poison Ivy, Hound Dog, Charlie Brown, Yakety Yak, (There is a rose in) Spanish Harlem, I Who Have Nothing, Love Potion Number Nine, On Broadway, etc. and many more- that’s a helluva lot of “songs everybody knows” for one career and most of them written when he was very young, plus he was a co-writer of Stand By Me.

Damn! I did it!
Just last week I was discussing “Black Denim Trousers” with a friend, and when I looked up the lyrics, I noticed that it had a beginning and an end, but no middle. So go look up the song now, as I’ll get in trouble if I post the whole thing.
See what I mean? Why did he have to leave? No explanation! So, for the fun of it, I wrote one:

Now, her dad thought Mary Lou should be forbidden to be kissed.
The town police chief said he’d be delighted to assist.
They hatched a scheme to jail him for a planted bag of pot
And tow away that motorcycle to the impound lot.

The chief received the call patrolling at the burger stand;
The whole town soon was buzzing with the word of what they’d planned.
“I’m sorry, Mary Lou,” she heard him say, “I’ve got to fly.
I love you, but without this motorcycle, I would die.”

Because with blue serge trousers and shiny leather boots,
   A helmet, and a billy club and handcuffs at their side,
      Plus sovereign immunity conveyed by badge and gun—
      Who really is the terror of Highway 101?

Is that all there is? If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing; Let’s break out the booze and have a ball–if that’s all there is.


Wow. One of the true greats.