The songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller is responsible for launching the careers of some of the most iconic acts in Rock & Roll history. They wrote songs for the Coasters, the Drifters, Ben E. King, the Shangri-La’s and perhaps most famously, Elvis Presley.
Elvis with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
With songs like Is That All There Is?, There Goes My Baby, Yakity Yak, Charlie Brown, Stand By Me, Love Potion Number 9, Poison Ivy, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Jailhouse Rock and Hound Dog, Leiber and Stoller cemented their place in the Song Writers Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in music history.
In 1958, Leiber and Stoller took a chance on a young session guitarist and former member of the Teddy Bears (of, To Know Him is to Love Him, fame) by the name of Phil Spector.
a very young Phil Spector
It was while working as an apprentice with Leiber and Stoller, that Phil Spector learned the art of producing music. Spector was already a song writer and performer, but it wasn’t until his time with Leiber and Stoller, taught him the production end of the business that Spector really began to shine.
A scant three years later, Spector formed a new record company along with his partner Lester Sill called Phillies Records and it was during that time that his infamous Wall Of Sound technique was born. It was also during that time that Spector employed Sonny Bono as part of his production team. Spector, himself launched more careers than those of his mentors. He gave the world, Sonny and Cher, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes, The Crystals and Ike and Tina Turner. Spector also wrote and/or produced music for Dion, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles (Let It Be), John Lennon (Imagine) and The Ramones. Phil Spector earned himself a place in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.
Spector’s personal life was not as successful. Married three times, he fathered five children (three of whom he adopted with his then wife Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes). Spector was getting increasingly reclusive over the years and began to exhibit some dangerous behavior, like brandishing a gun and stealing unreleased tapes while working with John Lennon in 1973 and threatening Leonard Cohen with a crossbow in 1977, to pulling a gun on the Ramones in 1980, during a meeting at his home when they wanted to leave.
Spector’s mug shot
Phil Spector has been the inspiration for several movie characters including Ronnie “Z-Man” Barzell in the 1970 Russ Meyer movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. This year, Al Pacino wrapped filming on a HBO movie, where he played Phil Spector. The movie is centered on the relationship between Phil Spector and defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden while the music business legend was on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson.
Ironically, Al Pacino worked with Lana Clarkson, the actress that Phil Spector was convicted of murdering in 2003. They appeared together in the Brian De Palma/Oliver Stone classic Scarface. Clarkson also appeared in a few Roger Corman films, as well as the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
So, if songwriting legends, Leiber and Stoller hadn’t taken a young Phil Spector under their wing, the world would never have heard songs like, Be My Baby, Chapel Of Love, River Deep-Mountain High, Spanish Harlem, Take Me Home Tonight, Then He Kissed me and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. But then, Lana Clarkson would likely still be alive.