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Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography Hardcover – June 9, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The golden days of rock ÖnÖ roll flit by in this sprightly memoir by the celebrated songwriting duo. A couple of Jewish kids with a passion for black music, Leiber and Stoller started out as teenagers writing blues ballads, penned such early, genre-defining rock classics as Hound Dog and Stand by Me, then conceived a midlife obsession with aging chanteuse Peggy Lee, for whom they wrote and produced an album of ruminative torch songs. Along the way, they went through iconic music-biz rites of passage: hanging with Elvis; working at the Brill Building; getting into financial disputes with Phil Spector, Atlantic Records and the Mafia. As arranged by collaborator Ritz, the authors harmonize well in their alternating reminiscences; Stoller is the more reflective one, while the best anecdotes belong to the brash Leiber, who was challenged to a drag race by James Dean, choked by Norman Mailer and forced to trade his car for a pair of shoes. ThereÖs not a lot of deep insight into the creative process—the authors seem to have written most of their songs on 15 minutesÖ notice—just vignettes from pop musicÖs giddy youth, short and sweet and catchy. Photos. (June)
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From Booklist

The snappy, oral-history-style dual autobiography of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who brought Brill Building patter and production values to R&B chart supremacy in the early 1950s, probably owes much of its zing to longtime celebrity biographer and “with” author David Ritz. Their story appears in alternating blocks headed “Leiber” or “Stoller,” which can’t help suggesting the call-and-response structure of two of their hits for the Coasters, “Charlie Brown” and “Yakety Yak,” songs that lightheartedly sketched urban teen predicaments. Leiber and Stoller scored as big commercially as songwriters could at the time through their association with Elvis (they penned “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog”), but their arguably best songs were hits for black performers, including Ben E. King (“Stand by Me”), the Drifters (“There Goes My Baby”), and Big Mama Thornton (“Hound Dog” before Elvis whitened it up). Celebrated today mostly as R&B and rock hitmakers, in their extended heyday, they also wrote for MOR pop stars, jazz artists (Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?”), and anybody who needed a well-crafted song. --Mike Tribby

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416559388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559382
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on June 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller autobiography reads like one of their records... great, intoxicating, and wishing it didn't end, and if there is a fault to the book, that is it. But, who can rate a book badly for leaving you with a taste for more?

Anyone who has listen to a radio in the last 50 years has certainly heard one of L&S's compositions. Their music is legendary and has become the staple of the music world.

L&S have written an interesting and factual presentation that gives you some great insight into their personalities, creative process, and the people they have associated with during the early years of R&R.

Their recollections of writing for Elvis Presley, their first association with Phil Spector, their partnership with Atlantic Records, and even their run-in with the Mafia are all interesting but disappointingly, too briefly told.

Undoubtedly a thoroughly researched biography would have further extended the tales regarding the two, but this book does an admirable job of giving the reader a feel for the early developments in the music industry, and the people associated with it. Generally, the book is easy and fun to read, especially if you have any interest in all in the founders of rock and roll. On the other hand, it leaves you with a feeling you are seeing a half-painted picture. You know there's more there.
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Format: Hardcover
The music legends Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller tell their own story with help from noted music writer David Ritz. The only fault with this book is that it is not two or three times as long. This is a quick but fascinating read that I regretted having finished so quickly (two sittings, purposely so, I didn't want to finish it in one). There is also an appendix of their chart hits (some, like Stand By Me, charted multiple times). Lots of great photos too (check out the one of Big Mama Thornton, who looks like she could tear the top of your head off). Of course, they were also mentors to some of the other great songwriting teams, like Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, amongst many others. Tales of the Coasters (who they said were their favorite artists to work with), the Drifters, Elvis, Peggy Lee, and many, many more.

I was lucky enough to attend their SRO signing event at the Grove in Los Angeles (although the staff seemed clueless as to their importance, they said they weren't expecting a big crowd - much to their surprise, well over 100 people showed up, including musician/writer Billy Vera). Both Jerry and Mike told great stories (prompted a bit by Mr. Ritz) and then signed books for a long time (I was fortunate enough to get my Coasters box set booklet signed as well). I (and the rest of the audience) could have listened all night, but there were all those books to sign (I think they sold out) and let's face it, they are 76 years old (born just a few weeks apart in 1933).

If you have any interest in rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and pop music, you will want to read their story. And of course, reading about these songs will make you want to play their 45's, LP's and CD's over and over. Their music is truly the soundtrack of America.

Long Live Lieber and Stoller!
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Format: Hardcover
This is an entertaining and hard-to-put-down autobiography of two legends in the music industry. The book is written like a long interview with Stoller and Leiber alternating sections as they relate the story of their rise in the music industry. I knew they were important to the music I listened to in the 60s, but I was still surprised at how much great music they had created and how many great artists they worked with. I especially was interested in the description of how they actually wrote the songs (I wonder if Lennon and McCartney, in the early days, worked similarly.) And getting an insider's look at how the music industry changed from R&B to Pop was truly illuminating. An extra bonus was the wealth of information about the famous people they worked with. (That Colonel Parker seems like snake.) f you grew up listening to their music, you'll want to read this book. If you are only briefly acquainted with their work, here's a chance to learn more. It's worth it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoy the music of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, especially from the 1950s with the Coasters and into the 1960 with The Drifters and the girl groups. Little did they know at the time that their music would become timeless. It did take me some time to get used to the format of the book. I've never read a book that goes back and forth with each individual taking turns speaking. I had to remind myself as to who was speaking as I read through the book. The book is a quick read with the part dealing with the post 1960s not as interesting to me. This is also the story of other great songwriting teams from the 1960s such as Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil from the days of The Brill Building. Hound Dog was to be sung by Big Mama Thornton, but it was an unknown named Elvis Presley who made it a hit. Leiber and Stoller did make it big with Smokey Joe's Cafe to top off their career. Their personal lives suffered throughout their careers as such a lifestyle would suggest. I found the book interesting, but I would strongly suggest you check out a DVD set entitled The Songmakers which is sold here on Amazon. It contains two DVDs of music from their era. In part it includes "The Hitmakers-The Teens Who Stole Pop Music" and "Words and Music by Leiber & Stoller." Both will provide you with an excellent presentation of the role of Leiber and Stoller in American music. This is an outstanding set. Check it out! You can thank me later.
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