Aug 23, 2011
Jerry Leiber, one of the creators of rock 'n' roll as half of the most celebrated songwriting duo of its first golden era, died on August 22, 2011 at the age of 78 in Los Angeles.
Leiber, the lyricist, and his partner, Mike Stoller “had few peers and no equals” Rolling Stone wrote in 1990. Hits of theirs such as “Hound Dog,” “Stand By Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Kansas City”, and many others have been sung for decades by artists from Elvis Presley to the Beatles and scores of others since they began writing together in the early 1950s growing up Jewish in Los Angeles.
Leiber and Stoller helped introduce mainstream white America into the broad landscape of urban black culture that fueled the birth of rock 'n' roll. "Their songwriting captured the essence and nuances of black music and language with a melodic invention, narrative ingenuity and cool hilarity that were true to the source while transcending it – heavy-duty R&B with a pop sensibility and lyric universality,” the magazine said.
Leiber told the Baltimore Sun in 1997 that: "The Jewish background is not that far from the black groove. Blacks are downtrodden, Jews are downtrodden; therefore, they have something in common in that affliction. Being downtrodden often makes one more empathetic and sympathetic." He said traditional Jewish music shares many traits with rhythm and blues. "Listen to any cantor, any good hazan, sing and you can hear a little bit of Ray Charles going on.”
Leiber & Stoller have been honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and many other music organizations.