A Driving Force in Rock ‘n Roll: Songwriter Jerry Leiber RIP

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From KCRW DJ Chris Douridas:

The songs of Leiber and Stoller were a catalyst that helped propel the advent of Rock and Roll, and constitute an inordinate share of the most well-known and most successful songs of the era, including “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Love Potion No. 9”, and “Stand By Me”.

They were the link that fused R&B into the pop idioms of the day, and essentially – with Jerry’s radio play inspired lyrics and Mike’s 12 bar blues and jazz infused piano style – made pop music sound hip.

Jerry Leiber died last week in Los Angeles at age 78.

the interview we did with them on Morning Becomes Eclectic. This conversation dates from 6/27/97, and was rescued out of my garage from a box of aging cassette tapes. The occasion of their visit to KCRW was the LA run of a new stage musical built around their songs called Smokey Joe’s Cafe, which ironically earned the duo their first Grammy (they won for the cast album).

You’ll hear how Jerry first met Mike while he was still a senior at Fairfax High School, how they became ad hoc producers after a recording session with Big Mama Thornton that yielded their most famous hit, and how they mentored a young Phil Spector. But mostly you’ll hear a lasting camaraderie between two very talented men who maintained a creatively enriching shared career and enduring friendship that spanned more than 60 years.

Listen to the interview in KCRW’s archives here.

Chris Douridas

Editor’s Note: KCRW DJ Gary Calamar also hosted the duo in 2009 when they released their autobiography “Hound Dog”. You can find that interview here