No. 47 said to No. 3, Jerry Leiber was one of the biggest rock stars you never did see. 

Leiber, who wrote the lyrics to Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock," and many, many more standards, died today.  He was 78.

Here are five of his and composer Mike Stoller's classic contributions (six, if you include the above cut, which you really should): 

1. "Hound Dog:" Elvis' signature hit, released when Leiber was 23, and originally recorded by blues legend Big Mama Thornton when the prodigy was just 20. "I'd be banging on the piano, and Jerry would be yelling and pacing," the surviving Stoller told the New York Times in 1995. "It all happened simultaneously."

2. "Stand By Me:" In the beginning, it was a 1961 hit for Ben E. King, then it became a set-list must for virtually everybody, including, per WIkipedia's count, John Lennon, Lady Gaga and Sting, Green Day and even author Stephen King, who saw the song become the soundtrack—and title—of the adaption of his coming-of-age novella, The Body. Said Leiber of its timelessness to Rolling Stone: "[T]hat is an insidious piece of work. It can put a hole through your head."

3. "Chapel of Love:" The nuptials standard that few weddings—or Father of the Bride remakes—can do without. Leiber and Stoller didn't write it, but they produced the 1964 hit version by the Dixie Cups, thereby adding to their legend. Other hits produced by the duo include Reservoir Dogs favorite, "Stuck in the Middle of You."  

4. "I'm a Woman:" Peggy Lee recorded it. The long-running, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Smokey Joe's Cafe, which was devoted to the Leiber-Stoller songbook, spotlighted it. And Enjoli perfume reworked it for the "24-hour" working mom of the 1980s. (No, there's no reference to bacon in Leiber's original lyrics.)

5. "I (Who Have Nothing):" Before there was "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," there was this gut-wrencher made famous by Shirley Bassey in 1963. The song's flare for dramatics continues to make it a favorite of American Idol contestants, including Haley Reinhart, who belted it out during this past spring's Leiber and Stoller night.

Apologies are now in order to "Charlie Brown," "Is That All There Is?," "Kansas City," "Love Potion No. 9,"  "On Broadway," "Treat Me Nice," "Yakety Yak" and all the other favorites that didn't make the list. The fact was, Leiber wrote and produced so many hit songs that even he had his own ranking system. 

His least favorite? According to a 1994 Los Angeles Times profile on Smokey Joe's Cafe, yet another classic: "There Goes My Baby."

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.