Jerry Leiber, of legendary songwriting team Leiber and Stoller, has died at the age of 78. According to Rolling Stone, his death was due to cardiac arrest.
A Baltimore native, Leiber first met Mike Stoller in 1950 in Los Angeles; both teenagers had moved there with their families, and both frequented the same jazz clubs. The duo quickly became applicable partners, with Leiber handling most of the lyrics while Stoller penned the music. In 1952, the pair wrote “Hound Dog” for blues singer Big Mama Thornton. Four years later, Elvis Presley scooped up the song and it became a massive hit.
The duo continued to write some of rock ‘n’ roll’s most timeless tunes, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand by Me,” “Yakety Yak,” “Young Blood,” and “Love Potion No. 9,” to name a few. Leiber and Stoller were forerunners of the so-called “Brill Building Sound,” named for the historic office building near Times Square in New York where countless hit songs were written by scores of prolific writers; it was here that Leiber and Stoller wrote some of their greatest hits, alongside other such writing duos as Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Gerry Coffin and Carole King, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, and many, many more.
In 1985, Leiber and Stoller were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, followed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years later. The pair won many other awards, including the ASCAP Founders’ Award in 1991, the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Ivor Novello International Songwriters Award.
Leiber and Stoller songs have been recorded by many artists over the years, including James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, The Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, The Beach Boys, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Fats Domino, Peggy Lee, The Drifters, John Mellencamp, The Everly Brothers, Tom Jones, and Edith Piaf, among others. Elvis Presley alone recorded more than 20 Leiber and Stoller songs.
The impact that Leiber and Stoller had on modern music cannot be underestimated, and so Leiber’s passing truly marks the end of an era. Leiber is survived by his sons Jed, Oliver, and Jake.