Jerry Leiber, Lyricist Behind "Jailhouse Rock" and "Chapel of Love," Dies
In partnership with songwriter Mike Stoller, Leiber penned hits such as "There Goes My Baby" and "Hound Dog."
Pop music lyricist Jerry Leiber, whose partnership with Mike Stoller created such timeless hits as "Jailhouse Rock" and "There Goes My Baby," helping to shape the identity and commercial potential of early rock and roll, died Tuesday of cardio pulmonary failure, Rolling Stone is reporting. He was 78.
A dual member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and 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," "Kansas City" 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.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing acquired the Leiber-Stoller catalogue in April 2007. The firm's Chairman and CEO Martin N. Bandier said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, "The songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller remains one of the greatest and most prolific partnerships of all time. Jerry was a special part of our Sony/ATV family and it was a relationship that ranks among the very best and most sincere in my entire career. Like the lyrics in his iconic songs, Jerry was humorous, insightful and always memorable. He will be missed by everyone who knew him, but lucky for all of us his songs will live on for generations.”
The 1960s were kind to Leiber/Stoller with a continued parade of hits including the Drifters' "On Broadway," the Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack" and the Dixie Cups' "Chapel of Love."
In 1969, they 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 before Leiber in 1933, Stoller still resides in Los Angeles.
Marc Schneider is a reporter for Billboard.