August 27, 2010
Jerry Leiber, the songwriter who penned such classic rock and roll hits as Elvis Presley's Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock, has died at the age of 78.
Leiber earned his reputation alongside co-writer Mike Stoller, penning tunes for The Drifters, The Coasters and Ben E King as well as Presley.
Leiber and Stoller infused their songs with influences from their blues and jazz backgrounds.
Leiber died of cardiopulmonary failure in Los Angeles, a spokesman said.
Leiber's career began in 1953 when Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton became the first artist to record Hound Dog.
Then a rhythm and blues number, the track went to the top of the charts.
The song would later become an even more successful hit record for Presley, who reinvented it as a rock and roll standard.
The pair also crafted the enduring Ben E King hit Stand By Me, seen by critics as one of their most influential and enduring songs.
Leiber and Stoller's work as a songwriting duo earned them 15 number one hits and secured them both entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987.
"The music world lost today one of its greatest poet laureates," said Terry Stewart, president of the Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cleveland, Ohio.
"Jerry not only wrote the words that everyone was singing, he led the way in how we verbalised our feelings about the societal changes we were living with in post-World War II life.
"Appropriately, his vehicles of choice were the emerging populist musical genres of rhythm and blues and then rock and roll," he told the Associated Press.
Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy in the US, also paid tribute in a statement published on the organisation's website.
"With a career that spanned musicals to R&B and rock and roll, Leiber's lyrical talent along with Stoller's composing skill helped shape the music of the '50s and '60s," he said.
"Together, they were an extraordinary team that generated a rich and diverse musical catalogue that leaves an indelible imprint on our cultural history."
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