Songwriter Jerry Leiber dead at 78
Jerry Leiber, the celebrated songwriter who penned a number of popular songs with his partner, Mike Stoller, has died. He was 78 and passed away from cardiopulmonary failure, according to reports. The songwriting duo wrote numbers for Elvis Presley, the Coasters and many others. They also gained fame on Broadway for the 1995 hit "Smokey Joe's Cafe," a revue dedicated to their music.
Leiber spent a good part of his youth in Los Angeles, attending Fairfax High School. He met Stoller at a young age and the two started writing songs, influenced by the blues and rhythm and blues. Among the songs that Leiber worked on are "Hound Dog," "Yakety Yak," "Jailhouse Rock" and "Love Potion No. 9."
The pair started Spark Records, later acquired by Atlantic Records. Their success reached its pinnacle with their songs for Presley, which also included "King Creole," "Loving You" and "Santa Claus is Back in Town."
On Broadway, "Smokey Joe's Cafe" served as a celebration of their work, running for more than 2,000 performances and spawning numerous regional productions. The musical, directed in New York by Jerry Zaks, received seven Tony nominations and the album won a Grammy.
The music of Leiber and Stoller is featured in the Broadway musical "Million Dollar Quartet."
Read the complete obituary on Jerry Leiber.
— David Ng
Photo: Jerry Leiber, left, with Mike Soller in at Leiber's Venice home in 1996. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.