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Jerry Leiber, Song Writing Dynamo, Dies At Age 78

August 23, 2011

It has often been said that there would be no rock and roll without “Leiber and Stoller.”

It would be hard to refute that idea in light of the songs that were penned by these legends.

One part of that duo died Monday.

Jerry Leiber’s death at the age of 78 deprives the world of a terrific, witty lyricist, one who understood the universal appeal of what used to be called ‘race music,’ and saw that it could appeal to audiences of any ethnicity.

Leiber and Stoller will be best remembered for two songs: Hound Dog, originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton and covered (blandly in comparison) by Elvis Presley, in a move that launched his career into the stratosphere; and Stand By Me, a lovely, yearning anthem that they co-composed with its original singer, Ben E. King. Covered by artists as diverse as John Lennon and Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali), it’s one of the best-known, most defining pop songs of the last half century.

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