Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller met as teenagers in Los Angeles in 1950, found that they were both fans of Blues and Rhythm & Blues, and started writing songs together. Jerry wrote the lyrics and Mike wrote the music. Their first hit came in '52, an R&B song called "Hard Times" recorded by Charles Brown. They stayed in the R&B genre for a few more years, writing songs that would later become huge hits, including "Kansas City" and "Hound Dog".
In the mid-'50s, Atlantic Records hired them as both songwriters and Record Producers. They moved in a doo-wop direction, writing hits for The Drifters and The Coasters. Songs like "Charlie Brown" and "Yakety Yak" became famous for their sense of humor and understanding of '50s youth culture.
After Elvis Presley made "Hound Dog" famous, they started writing for him, including "Loving You", "Jailhouse Rock", and "King Creole". Along with Elvis, they helped popularize black music in America, with R&B hits that crossed over into the mainstream.
In the early '60s, they left Atlantic for United Artists, and then to their own label, Red Bird. At Red Bird, they had success with Girl Groups The Shangri-Las and The Dixie Cups. They sold Red Bird in the late '60s and became independent songwriter-producers.
They won a Grammy Award in 1969 for "Is That All There Is?", and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. A Broadway Jukebox Musical featuring their work, Smokey Joe's Cafe, came out in 1995 and won them another Grammy.
Famous songs, and the musicians who made the famous
- "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots": Edith Piaf (as "L’Homme à la Moto")
- "Charlie Brown": The Coasters
- "Don't": Elvis Presley
- "Hound Dog": Elvis Presley
- "Is That All There Is?": Peggy Lee
- "Jailhouse Rock": Elvis Presley
- "Kansas City": Wilbert Harrison
- "King Creole": Elvis Presley
- "Love Me": Elvis Presley
- "Love Potion #9": The Searchers
- "Loving You": Elvis Presley
- "On Broadway": The Drifters (co-written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil)
- "Pearl's A Singer": Elkie Brooks (co-written with Ralph Dino and John Sembello)
- "Poison Ivy": The Coasters
- "Riot In Cell Block Nine": The Robins, The Blues Brothers
- "Ruby Baby": The Drifters, Dion
- "Searchin'": The Coasters
- "Smokey Joe's Cafe": The Robins
- "Spanish Harlem": Ben E. King (co-written with Phil Spector)
- "Stand By Me": Ben E. King (co-written with King)
- "There Goes My Baby": The Drifters (co-written with Ben E. King, Lover Patterson, and George Treadwell)
- "Yakety Yak": The Coasters
- "Young Blood": The Coasters (co-written with Doc Pomus)
- "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care": Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley
Leiber and Stoller provide examples of
- Ascended Extra: Phil Spector, who started out as an assistant.
- Break Up Song: Leiber's characters fell out of love at least as often as they fell in love.
- Christmas Songs: A few.
- Dance Sensation: "Jailhouse Rock"
- Doo Wop Progression: Very fond of this trope.
- The Fifties
- The Four Chords of Pop
- Girl Group: They had some success producing these in The Sixties.
- Heavy Meta: "That Is Rock & Roll"
- Instrumentals: A handful.
- Love Is a Drug: Taken quite literally in "Love Potion #9".
- Morality Doo-Wop: "Poison Ivy"
- The Musical / Jukebox Musical: Smokey Joe's Cafe.
- One-Woman Song: "Cordelia", "Fannie Lou", "Hello, Miss Simms", "Lola", "Suzanne, You Can"
- Record Producer
- Silly Love Songs: By the dozen.
- Something Blues: "Back Door Blues", "Blues for Me", "Heavenly Blues", "King Solomon's Blues"
- Subdued Section: "Hound Dog", "Charlie Brown", and others.
- Translated Cover Version: Edith Piaf's French version of "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots".