Brief Encounters With Leiber And Stoller!

February 21, 2007



Mike Stoller, Elvis Presley and Jerry Leiber

Sometimes visiting Artie Wayne On The Web, is like going to the Turf Bar and Grill, after a long, hard day at the Brill Building! You never know who you’re gonna’ meet…but you know you’re gonna’ have a good time!

The last time I saw Mike Stoller, was at a quiet dinner with my late manager Marty Machat. Mike kept us spellbound with his tale of having been rescued from the Andrea Doria, the luxury liner that was shipwrecked in 1956!

The last time I saw Jerry Leiber, was at a little sushi bar, in Hollywood. He had me, and my friend, Patti Dahlstrom laughing so hard…that we forgot that we had an opening to go to at the Troubador!

The first time I became aware of Leiber and Stoller, the songwriter/ prodcers, was in 1956 when I saw their names on an Elvis Presley Record, “Hound Dog”. It wasn’t long before I considered them the equivelant of a “Name Brand”, and would buy one of their creations without even hearing the song! I became impressed with more than their songs and productions, however, when I realized how much they helped define the image of the artists they worked with!

Although Elvis had dozens of hits in his remarkable career, 30 years after he passed away, whenever there’s a tribute to him you”re sure to hear “Hound Dog” and “Jailhouse Rock” by Mike and Jerry. Both songs are full of humor and rebellion…and embody the Spirit of Elvis!

Until I saw their photos, I assumed they were “Negroes”, which African-Americans were called at the time. Their output of hits with deep roots in West Coast Rythym and Blues, The Robins, The Clovers and “Big” Mama Thorton was legendary but it wasn’t until their smash hits by the Coasters, “Young Blood” and “Searchin'”, did they start to leave their indelible mark on the Pop Music Market!

Although they produced many hits over the years for the Coasters, Drifters, Ben E. King, Stealers Wheel and Peggy Lee, the most memorable recordings they made are the songs they wrote or cowrote for those artists. These signature songs include, “Stand By Me”, and “I Who Have Nothin” for Ben E. King, “Yakity-Yak” and “Charlie Brown” for the Coasters, “Love Potion Number 9” for the “Clovers”, “There Goes My Baby” and “On Broadway” for the Drifters, as well as, “Is That All There Is? for Peggy Lee.

I never knew Mike and Jerry well, but I knew their songs intimately…and there was never a time that I’d be around them when I didn’t hope that a little of their “Magic” wouild kinda’ rub off on me!

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

6 Responses to “Brief Encounters With Leiber And Stoller!”

  1. Steveo Says:

    Delightful hearing about these 2 legends…I was watching a filmed interview with them – I think it was A&E’s Burt Bacharach biography special, not sure
    but Jerry was funny as hell….then he made the comment of trying to deal with RCA which was so difficult in the early days to deal with rock and roll wise…I about bowled over laffing at his candid comment…”If have to deal with those assh**es at Rca again…” too funny!

    Thank Artie for the story.

  2. mark barkan Says:

    You forgot to mention “A Rose in Spanish Harlem” that they co-wrote with Phil Spector-still one of their greatest songs though my favorite is “Is That All There Is” I was under contract to Jerry and Mike in the early sixties and had the “B” side of “She Cried” which they produced but didn’t write. Jerry was a fascinating character and an incredible lyric writer. Mike was more soft spoken and an incredible musician as well as music writer. Together they were awesome-and I count myself lucky to have worked with them and known them-though I was a little immature when I was under contract at the time.

  3. Artie,
    My thoughts are with Mike Stoller today. So sad to lose 2 great ones so close together. Heaven’s a better place today.

  4. Laura Says:

    Hi Artie,

    I echo Patti’s sentiments about Mike Stoller. The world is a much better place because of Stoller’s 60+-year friendship with a gentleman named Jerry Leiber, which synergized (is that a word?) into one of the most successful songwriting teams in the history of music. R.I.P. Jerry, and thank you.

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