One of the song writing teams Elvis worked
with was the prolific Leiber and Stoller, who wrote many hit songs of the 50's
Jerry Leiber was born April 25, 1933 in Baltimore, Maryland. Mike Stoller was born March 13, 1933 in Long Island, New York. Both of their families moved to the West Coast after World War II. They met as teens in Los Angeles in 1950, where they discovered they had similar interests in R&B music. They began writing songs together in a partnership that continues today. Their first nationally recognized song was called "Hard Times", recorded by Charles Brown. In 1953, their song "Hound Dog" as recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thorton topped the R&B charts. They formed the Spark recording label and developed a style of telling a story in their songs, as illustrated by tunes such as "Smoky Joe's Cafe", "Riot in Cell Block 9",and "Framed". They wrote for a group called The Robins, which later changed their name to The Coasters (as they were from the West Coast). Leiber and Stoller wrote such Coaster hits such as "Searchin'", "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown", "Poison Ivy", "Along Came Jones" and "Little Egypt". They soon moved their operations to New York. By this time, in addition to writing, they were also producing recording sessions and they began experimenting with adding new sounds using Latin percussion and strings. It was under their tutelage that a young Phil Spector learned techniques that would lead to his being a producer famous his signature "wall of sound" technique.
Elvis's recording of "Hound Dog" was released in July of 1956 and bounded up the charts, selling millions of copies. During the initial heyday of this first Elvis hit with a Leiber and Stoller tune, Mike Stoller was a participant in another historic event. On July 26, 1956, Stoller survived his voyage on the Andrea Doria, an Italian ocean liner that sunk that day off Nantucket.
After Elvis's great success with his version of "Hound Dog", Paramount Studios and music publishers Hill and Range selected additional Leiber and Stoller songs for Elvis' 1957 film "Loving You". It was on April 30, 1957 while working on the movie "Jailhouse Rock" that Elvis first met Leiber and Stoller. They were skeptical of meeting the newcomer, thinking he was a country bumpkin. However, they were very impressed when upon meeting and talking to Elvis that he was very knowledgeable of R&B music and could discuss its nuances in great detail. They went on to work closely with Elvis on the "Jailhouse Rock" soundtrack with Stoller appearing in the film playing the piano for Elvis's character. After an incident of pitching songs and movie ideas directly to Elvis
and not going through the usual chain of command with Elvis's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, they had a falling out with Parker and essentially ended their collaboration with Elvis. Fast-forward to 1960, they did write a couple of songs that were in the running for inclusion in Elvis's first post-army movie, "G.I. Blues", but, ultimately they were not used. Although the direct collaboration ended, Elvis did choose several additional Leiber and Stoller tunes to record over the years.
Leiber and Stoller have written for many artists over the years and have received many accolades, including induction into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame (1985), the Record Producers' Hall of Fame (1986), and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1987). In February 1988, Elvis Presley's recording of "Hound Dog" was placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame. And in 1991, Leiber and Stoller received the Founder's Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). The Broadway production "Smokey Joe's Cafe: The Music of Leiber and Stoller" pays tribute to their work and has toured extensively.
Listing every artist who has recorded a Leiber and Stoller song would be quite an undertaking. Here's just a sampling: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, James Brown, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Bill Haley and The Comets, Barbra Streisand, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Johnny Mathis, John Mellencamp, Lou Rawls, Tom Jones, Bobby Darin, Luther Vandross, B.B. King, Otis Redding, the Righteous Brothers, Jeff Beck and many, many others.
Leiber and Stoller songs that Elvis recorded include:
(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care
Bossa Nova Baby
Dirty, Dirty Feeling
Fools Fall In Love
Girls! Girls! Girls!
I Want To Be Free
If You Don't Come Back
Just Tell Her Him Said Hello
Santa Claus Is Back In Town
She's Not You (co-written by Doc Pomus)
Steadfast Loyal & True
Three Corn Patches
Treat Me Nice
You're The Boss