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Jerry Leiber, Co-Writer of Songs for Elvis Presley and Other Legends, Dies

Jerry Leiber
David Livingston, Getty Images

Lyricist Jerry Leiber, who with composer and longtime collaborator Mike Stoller wrote songs recorded by Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones and many others, died Monday in Los Angeles.

Leiber, 78, had been battling cardiopulmonary disease.

“He was my friend, my buddy, my writing partner for 61 years,” Stoller said in a statement. “We met when we were 17 years old. He had a way with words. There was nobody better. I’m going to miss him.”

Leiber and Stoller achieved early success with ‘Hound Dog,’ which they wrote for R&B singer Big Mama Thornton in 1952. Four years later, Elvis Presley put his stamp on the song, marking the start of a fruitful working relationship with the eventual king of rock ‘n’ roll. Presley would record two dozen Leiber/Stoller compositions, among them ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and ‘Don’t.’

The songwriting team also had a close relationship with The Coasters, who had hits with such Leiber and Stoller tunes as ‘Yakety Yak’ and ‘Poison Ivy,’ which was later recorded by The Rolling Stones.

Other notable Leiber/Stoller songs and the artists who have recorded them include ‘Love Me’ (Presley, Jones), ‘Spanish Harlem’ (Ben E. King, Franklin) and ‘Stand by Me’ (King, John Lennon).

Cee Lo Green’s version of ‘You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care)’ — previously done by Presley and Buddy Holly — can be found on the recently released star-studded Holly tribute album ‘Rave On Buddy Holly.’

Leiber’s many awards and honors (shared with Stoller) include induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1985) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987), a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1994) and a National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award (1996).

[Ultimate Classic Rock]

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