"Jerry Leiber, who with his songwriting partner Mike Stoller created a songbook that infused the rock ‘n’ roll scene of the 1950s and early ’60s with energy and mischievous humor, has died," reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 78.
Stoller, who is also 78, is still very robustly with us. He was seen this past season on "American Idol," when the contestants sang songs written by Leiber and Stoller.
The article adds, "Leiber, the words half of the duo, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of cardiopulmonary failure, said Randy Poe, president of the songwriters’ music publishing company."
In a tribute at the website of The New Yorker that carries the headline: "Jerry Leiber: Half of Everything," Ben Greenman writes, "Listing the great rock ‘n’ roll songs that Jerry Leiber wrote, mostly with his partner Mike Stoller, is listing rock ‘n’ roll: there’s ‘Hound Dog,’ which Big Mama Thornton recorded, powerfully, and then Elvis Presley rerecorded, definitively; ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ also Elvis; ‘Yakety Yak,’ ‘Poison Ivy,’ ‘Charlie Brown,’ and almost two dozen more Coasters classics; ‘Stand By Me’ (with Ben E. King); ‘Spanish Harlem’ (with Phil Spector); ‘On Broadway’ (with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill)."
The L.A. Times article adds, "As Leiber-Stoller biographer Robert Graham wrote, the Coasters’ songs ‘were arguably the most enduring and hands-down funniest records of the rock ‘n’ roll era.’ With their sassy lyrics and playful melodies, the songs liberated American teenagers to enjoy their youth and poke fun at their elders."
The pairing of the famous duo began, the L.A. Times notes, "When Leiber and Stoller met in Los Angeles in 1950 as teenagers, their talent for writing songs together was so immediate that they each described it as ‘spontaneous combustion.’ It was not unusual for them to write a song in a matter of minutes, songs that to their surprise were still being sung and recorded four or five decades later."
A final tribute: Here’s rare footage of a live version of Peggy Lee singing her hit version of Leiber and Stoller’s "Is That All There Is?":