Category Archives: Jerry Leiber

The Luncheon Society Flashback. An Appreciation/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/LA-Chez Mimi/May 13 2010

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Last year, The Luncheon Society had a wonderful gathering with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, two of the pioneering songwriters from the first generation of Rock and Roll; Leiber passed away today.  

The true testament of their partnership is that it lasted for over 60 years, longer than Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards or anybody else.  The only pair that comes close is Barry Mann and and Cynthia Weil, who, with Jerry and Mike, co-wrote “On Broadway.”

Leiber and Stoller were quite young when they began writing together in Los Angeles in the early 1950’s, so much so that their parents had to co-sign the contract for their first record deal. Today the copy of the contract is featured under-glass at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Both knew that theirs would be a tough road but they were young and had some ideas about how songs should be written.  They were unique in that they were two Caucasian kids who wrote for African-American artists and audiences. They were enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Take a look at Big Mama Thorton’s version of “Houng Dog,” which I dare say is far more superior than the Elvis version.

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The Luncheon Society/First Half 2010 recap/What’s coming up in the Second Half

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I thought I would quickly touch base now that we have completed the first half of 2010. Thus far  there have been 19 gatherings San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Manhattan.  We look for an equal number in the second half and should round out the year at 38-40.

Reminder.  To remind everybody, the SF and the LA Luncheon Society gatherings for Christopher Hitchens have been postponed and will be rescheduled later in 2010.

The Luncheon Society website.  For those who are unable to join us around the table,  you can subscribe to have The Luncheon Society summaries sent via email.  Click on the links below to learn more about the luncheons. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/LA-Chez Mimi/May 13 2010

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It’s an amazing story, one of those great tales from the early days of Rock and Roll. 

In 1956, Mike Stoller took his wife to France for 3 months.  After wandering around the countryside in late spring and early summer they return home on the Italian liner, the  SS Andrea Doria. It was the largest, the most spectacular, and safest of all of the Italian liners.  As Mike and his wife crossed the Atlantic, he purchased a copy of A Night to Remember, a best-seller by Walter Lord and considered the definitive reading on the sinking of the Titanic.

At 11 pm on July 26th, the Stockholm, a smaller passenger liner, crashed into the Andrea Doria and it began to list starboard and take on water. So instead of reading about the Titanic in Walter Lord’s book, he is actually living it. He thought, “That’s it; I’m a goner and I’m going down on the Titanic just like all of those poor souls who perished at the bottom of the Atlantic.” 

However, the crash took place off the coast of Massachusetts in a heavy shipping lane and within a short period, there was a massive effort to rescue the passengers before if sank to the bottom of the Atlantic 11 hours later.

Mike Stoller and his wife were rescued and they met Jerry Leiber at the dock in New York.  Leiber brought a full set of dry clothes for both Mike and his wife and once he made sure that his friends were okay, he exclaimed, “You won’t believe this, but Hound Dog  is a #1 hit!” Stoller was taken aback and said, “You mean Big Mama Thornton’s version,” who did it in 1953?  “No,” Leiber replied, “Its Elvis Presley.”  “Elvis Presley?” Stoller replied incredulously, “who’s that?”

Watch Big Mama’s version.  She simply whacks Elvis with big ol’ purse of hers. Look for a young Buddy Guy on that video. Nobody messed with her.


 

Stoller had been out of the country and had not seen the explosion of “Black Music” that was recorded by White Artists like Elvis.  In the span of 12 hours, Mike Stoller went from the brink of death to superstardom. Continue reading