If you have been listening to the radio lately (say that station was Bay Area’s KBLX) some of those songs may have been composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. They were perhaps one of the most legendary songwriting duos in rock history, with their legacy spans back to the 1950s, and their connection with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame even spans to when the very first ten performers were inducted back in 1986.
One of their first singles “Hound Dog” was first a hit single for blues legend Big Mama Thornton, but would later become a bigger hit when Elvis Presley recorded the song in 1956. With Rock and Roll on it’s way, Leiber and Stoller would become the first writers and producers to surround rhythm and blues with elaborate production values, when the duo composed classics for the Coasters (the first group inducted into the Rock Hall), including “Yakety Yak” and “Searchin’”. Other 1950s and early 1960s artists to have groundbreaking singles from Leiber and Stoller includes the Drifters (inducted in 1988) and one of their members, Ben E. King.
By the mid 1960s, their influence on popular music was already secured. In addition to being credited in helping bring R&B to the pop mainstream, they are credited with influencing Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, and they continued to write and produce classic tunes including “Is That all there Is” by Peggy Lee and “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel. Their songs have been covered by the likes of Steely Dan, John Lennon, and Chaka Khan. In 1987, they were one if not the first songwriting duos to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although one of them has recently passed on (Jerry Leiber), their contribution to popular music will forever be a groundbreaking platform for pop, rock, and especially R&B.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, inducted in 1987.