Doc Pomus and Morty Shuman were at the peak of their success when I met them up at Hill and Range music on the top floor of the BRILL BUILDING in the early 60s, when I was trying to make a name for myself as a singer/ songwriter. They always made me feel as if I was part of the music community, though I was a few years away from having my first hit.When I’d hear one of their new I never failed to get chills. They were basic and simple and real… and sometimes the entire song was a “hook” as opposed to just a line or two.
*
After Leiber and Stoller stopped writing for the “Classic” Elvis..Doc and Morty took over without missing a beat with “Surrender”, “Viva Las Vegas”, “Suspicion”, “Littlle Sister”, and “His Latest Flame”.
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As far as I’m concerned, the greatest contribution that POMUS AND SHUMAN made to Pop music were the songs they wrote for the Drifters, which elevated the entire genre of R&B Music. I remember once I was up at Hill and Range when Morty came back from a trip to Mexico, his head filled withall sorts of complex latin rythyms, most importantly “The Bayone” feel. A sort of BOOM BA-BOOM …BOOM BA-BOOM on bass and drums, with ultra-hip latin percussion dancing around on top. You can hear it as the pulse of the Drifters, “Save The Last Dance For Me”. Speaking of which, as I was doing some research, I ran across the following story
“Now, consider the context in which “Last Dance” was written. Here’s Doc, married to this gorgeous blonde Broadway actress, and all her Broadway cronies are contemptuous of rock & roll. A childhood victim of polio, Doc was on crutches, never able to walk. One night he was at a dance with his wife, waiting for herto finish dancing with a bevy of partners, patient and cool on the sidelines. Though he never said so, it likely provided the inspiration for these lines:

“Don’t forget who’s taking you home
And in whose arms you’re gonna be
So, darling, save the last dance for me”

copyright 1959/2012 by Hill and Range Music

FOR “SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME” BY BEN E. KING AND THE DRIFTERS CLICK  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef_xBhA_3cA&feature=fvwrel

(TO BE CONTINUED)

 

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tony

Although Elvis Presley was one of the most imitated singers in the world, his own influences beyond the men who wrote songs for him, like Otis Blackwell (“Don’t Be Cruel”, “All Shook Up”), Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”), were the demo singers who showed him how the songs were envisioned by the writers.

Malcolm Dodds, David Hill, Bill Giant, and Tony Middleton were all among Elvis’ favorite demo singers…and Tony Middleton was one of mine. Tony always added a little extra to his demonstration of a song, which Elvis appreciated and appropriated whenever he could.

I first met Tony, the former lead singer of the Willows (“Church Bells May Ring”), in the late ‘50s with my friend Sid Wyche (“Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On” Wyche/Williams), at one of the first demo sessions I ever went to. I was excited to meet the man who sang the demo for Sid’s song, “Big Hunk Of Love” (Wyche/Schroeder), which Elvis recorded. Although I don’t remember the name of the song on this session, I do remember Tony’s brilliant, stirring performance that seemed so effortless.

I could easily understand why Elvis was inspired by him, as well as Ben E. King who even got his adlib, “People Let Me Tell Ya’ Now” from one of  Tony’s demos

He’s appeared on Broadway as the lead in ‘Cabin in the Sky’ and was the featured singer in “Purlie” starring Melba Moore.  Tony Middleton’s music is sought after by music enthusiasts and collectors all over the world.

When I reconnected with him on Facebook I googled his name and found a video of “Paris Blues” from 1962, and you can see a little bit of what I’m talking about.

For Tony Middleton http://www.tonymiddletonmusic.com

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