Legendary songwriter Jerry Leiber, who wrote dozens of hits in the late 1950s and the 1960s with songwriting partner Mike Stoller, is dead.
The songs of Leiber and Stoller were featured on an episode of American Idol last year.
Leiber, the words half of the duo, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of cardiopulmonary failure, said Randy Poe, president of the songwriters’ music publishing company.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, Leiber and his lifelong writing partner, Stoller, wrote hits that included Elvis Presley’s rat-a-tat-tat rendition of “Hound Dog” in 1956 and Peggy Lee’s 1969 recording of the jaded “Is That All There Is?”
But they may be best remembered for the ebullient, impudent hits written for black groups like the Clovers (“Love Potion No. 9”), the Drifters (“Ruby Baby”); the Cheers (“Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots”), the Robins (“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” “Riot in Cell Block No. 9”) and, especially, a Robins’ spinoff group that Leiber and Stoller helped create, the Coasters (“Searchin’,” “Yakety Yak,” “Poison Ivy,” “Charlie Brown,” “Down in Mexico,” “Little Egypt”).
As Leiber-Stoller biographer Robert Graham wrote, the Coasters’ songs “were arguably the most enduring and hands-down funniest records of the rock ‘n’ roll era.”
With their sassy lyrics and playful melodies, the songs liberated American teenagers to enjoy their youth and poke fun at their elders.