Last year, The Luncheon Society had a wonderful gathering with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two of the pioneering songwriters from the first generation of Rock and Roll; Leiber passed away today.
The true testament of their partnership is that it lasted for over 60 years, longer than Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards or anybody else. The only pair that comes close is Barry Mann and and Cynthia Weil, who, with Jerry and Mike, co-wrote “On Broadway.”
Leiber and Stoller were quite young when they began writing together in Los Angeles in the early 1950’s, so much so that their parents had to co-sign the contract for their first record deal. Today the copy of the contract is featured under-glass at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Both knew that theirs would be a tough road but they were young and had some ideas about how songs should be written. They were unique in that they were two Caucasian kids who wrote for African-American artists and audiences. They were enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Take a look at Big Mama Thorton’s version of “Houng Dog,” which I dare say is far more superior than the Elvis version.