You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

March 13: Leiber & Stoller

Lawrence Bush
March 13, 2010

elvis_presley_leiber_and_stollerMike Stoller, who teamed with Jerry Leiber to write dozens of the popular songs that are permanently lodged in the baby boom generation’s brains, was born on this date in 1933. Leiber and Stoller’s hit songs include “Kansas City,” “Hound Dog” (sung by Big Mama Thornton and, later, Elvis Presley, who also recorded their “Jailhouse rock” and several more Lieber-Stoller songs), “Ruby Baby” (Dion and the Belmonts), “Yakety Yak,” Charlie Brown,” “Poison Ivy,” “Young Blood,” “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Riot in Cell Block #9” (all recorded by The Coasters), “There Goes My Baby” (The Drifters, written with Ben E. King), “Stand By Me” (also with Ben E. King), “She Cries,” “Only in America” (Jay and the Americans), “Love Potion #9” (The Clovers), and “Stuck in the Middle with You” (Stealers Wheel) — among many others. Mike Stoller was a Long Island boy who met his lyricist partner in 1950. They immediately began to turn out rhythm and blues hits that achieved “crossover” status by finding white audiences for black performers.
“I knew all about Leiber and Stoller. They were those bad white boys who wrote the blackest songs this side of the Mississippi. I loved what they did.” — Ray Charles
Watch Peggy Lee perform “Is That All There Is?” (orchestration by Randy Newman):

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.