Mike Stoller

Mike Stoller, who teamed with Jerry Leiber to write dozens of popular songs that would become permanently lodged in the brains of the baby boom generation, was born in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, NY, on this date in 1933. Among the many hits written (some together with other songwriters) by Leiber and Stoller […]

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Harold Arlen

Harold Arlen (Hyman Arluck), the son of a cantor and a key contributor to the Great American Songbook, was born in Buffalo, NY, on this date in 1905. In addition to composing the score for The Wizard of Oz — including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (lyrics by Yip Harburg), which was voted the best song of the […]

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Immortalizing Joe Hill

  On this date in 1915, IWW organizer Joe Hill (not Jewish) was arrested for murder in Salt Lake City, Utah. His trial was considered a frame-up and his conviction was widely protested (by Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller, among others). A writer of labor songs and parodies, Hill was immortalized in 1930 in the […]

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Ira Gershwin

Lyricist Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershowitz), a Pulitzer Prize-winner (for Of Thee I Sing, 1932) and prolific songwriting collaborator with his younger brother, George Gershwin, was born on the Lower East Side of New York on this date in 1896. His parents were immigrants from Russia, who had come to the U.S. in 1891. After taking odd jobs […]

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Gold in Oklahoma!

The soundtrack to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! became the first album certified as gold by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) on this date in 1958. The musical was the first written together by the Broadway team and earned them a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. The original production opened on March 31, 1943 and ran for 2,212 performances before becoming an Oscar-winning […]

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It Could Be a Wonderful World

Tin Pan Alley songwriter Hy Zaret (Zaritsky), whose output included “Unchained Melody,” “One Meatball,” “The Song of the French Partisan,” and “It Could Be a Wonderful World,” died at 99 on this date in 2007. His collaborators included Sammy Cahn, Lou Singer, Joan Whitney, and Alex North, among others. “Unchained Melody” (with Alex North) was […]

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Sammy Fain’s Many-Splendored Thing

Songwriter and film composer Sammy Fain (Feinberg) was born in New York on this date in 1902, the son of a cantor. Fain was a self-taught pianist who played by ear. A  frequent collaborator with Irving Kahal, Fain’s best-known songs included “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella,” “Tender Is the Night,” “You Brought a New […]

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A Tinkling Piano in the Next Apartment

Eric Maschwitz, who wrote the lyrics (under the name Holt Marvell) for “These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)” and became one of Great Britain’s leading television producers and executives, was born in Birmingham on this date in 1901. Maschwitz was an actor and radio host before serving as an intelligence and communications officer and postal censor […]

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One Fine Day at a Stoned Soul Picnic

Two songs made into hits by black vocalists and written by white Jewish songwriters were released on this date in 1963 and 1968, respectively: “One Fine Day,” recorded by the Chiffons and written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin; and “Stoned Soul Picnic,” recorded by The Fifth Dimension and written by Laura Nyro. “One Fine Day” hit the top five on the Billboard […]

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Ari Levine and the Smeezingtons

Songwriter, sound engineer, and producer Ari Levine, part of the trio (with Bruno Mars and Philip Lawrence) of hitmakers known as the Smeezingtons, was born on this date in 1984. The Smeezingtons were active from 2009 to 2014 and produced hits for the Sugarbees, Snoop Dogg, Flo Rida, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, and Cee-Lo Green, […]

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