Tag Archives: Elvis Presley

Songwriting Great Mike Stoller Looks Back, Moves Forward

Songwriting great Mike Stoller celebrates his 79th birthday March 13, but he’s keeping up a schedule that could frighten a younger man.  Stoller’s activities are diverse as can be — from participating in planning meetings for the Democratic Convention, to book signings of his Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography at Graceland during this summer’s Elvis Week.  It’s the 35th anniversary year of Elvis’ passing.

“It’s extremely gratifying when people talk about how much our songs have meant to them,” says Stoller, who lost his writing partner of 61 years, Jerry Leiber, last year.

The man who cowrote more than 20 songs for The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll admits he’s been asked all too many times, “What was Elvis really like?”  It’s a complicated answer, he says, and “I usually avoid the question if I can.  It’s either that, or they ask ‘What was your favorite song that you’ve written?'”  That one’s easier.  “My favorite song is the one I’m working on at the moment, always.  But Jerry and I would always say our favorites were Big Mama Thornton’s  ‘Hound Dog,’ or Peggy Lee’s ‘Is That All There Is?’  That gives you kind of the breadth we enjoyed.”

Stoller will be fielding questions today (3/6) with his wife, Corky Hale Stoller, who has her own illustrious musical history.  The couple are kicking off a new “In Conversation” Speaker Series at the Museum at Eldridge Street in New York.

Mike Stolle.

He also has, newly in release, the cast album CD of his The People In The Picture Broadway show, starring Donna Murphy.  According to Stoller, there are plans underway to bring the work, on which he collaborated with Artie Butler and Iris Rainer Dart, to other cities around the country next year.  The story time-travels from present day, back to pre-WWII Yiddish theater.  “It was a very moving story, very touching.  Audiences in general really seemed to like it, they had tears in their eyes,” he says.

And then there’s the prospect of Stoller being present for the upcoming unveiling of the Edith Piaf stamp, since he and Leiber wrote the legendary singer’s biggest-selling record, “L’Homme a La Moto.”  That would require a trip to Paris — but that, he acknowledges, wouldn’t be bad.

DÉJÀ VU: Last Acts of the King of Pop and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

As more details emerge of the death of Michael Jackson yesterday (6/25) , it’s becoming clear that the final act of the King of Pop resembles that of one of Jackson’s icons, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley — in many ways beyond the crowds of tearful fans leaving flowers and greetings at sites associated with the entertainers.

Elvis-Presley-brv01ELVIS NICKNAME:

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll

michael_jackson

MICHAEL NICKNAME:

The King of Pop

ELVIS DEATH:  Died young of heart attack, though questions about drug involvement persisted.  A 1994 re-opening of the case led the coroner to declare that all signs pointed to a sudden violent heart attack, but that there was little doubt that his “polypharmacy/Combined Drug Intoxication Pill dependence” was a factor in his declining health.

MICHAEL DEATH:  Died young of coronary failure.  Questions swirling about possible drug involvement as police impound car of doctor.

EP LAST PERFORMANCE:  Barely made it through his final concerts as his health issues escalated.

MJ LAST PERFORMANCE:  Health problems and “a onetime prescription pill addiction” had doubters saying he wouldn’t make London concerts as scheduled (L.A. Times May 12)

EP RIDICULED:  In the years before his death, was called a gross caricature of his former self, a washed up has-been.

MJ RIDICULED:  In the years before his death, was called a gross caricature of his former self, a washed up has-been.

TABLOID FODDER, EP:  As paparazzi captured pictures of his grossly bloated body and cheesy, jumpsuit-clad performances – and tales abounded of his eccentric behavior, such as gunning down a TV set.

TABLOID FODDER, MJ:  As paparazzi snapped photos of his grossly distorted face and his eerie disguises and militaristic costumes – and stories abounded of his eccentric behavior, such as dangling his baby from a hotel balcony.

MARRIED w/CHILDREN, ELVIS:  To Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley’s mother, later divorced.

MARRIED w/CHILDREN, MICHAEL:  To Lisa Marie Presley, later divorced.  Also married to Debbie Rowe.  Children: Michael Jr., Paris, Prince

ELVIS’ TELLING NUMBERS:  Estimated to have sold a billion records and counting.  1,500,000,000 viewers watched his “Aloha From Hawaii” global satellite special.

MICHAEL’S TELLING NUMBERS:  More than 750 million records sold, and counting.  60,000,000 viewers tuned in to Diane Sawyer interview with Jackson and Lisa Marie.  $500 million in debt.

ELVIS, RACIAL CONTROVERSY:  For sounding black

MICHAEL, RACIAL CONTROVERSY:  For looking white

FAMOUS PRESLEY HOME:  Graceland

FAMOUS JACKSON HOME:  Neverland

ELVIS’ GRAND GESTURES:  Loved to give away cars

MICHAEL’S GRAND GESTURES:  Loved to treat disadvantaged children and sick children to days of fun at his Neverland fairground and zoo

ELVIS INFAMY:  Overeating and pill dependence; one doctor was found to have prescribed more than 10,000 doses of sedatives, amphetamines and narcotics in Elvis’ name in the first eight months of 1977 alone.

MICHAEL INFAMY:  Child molestation charges, despite being acquitted.

ELIVS RESURGENCE:  All but deified as soon as he died.

MICHAEL RESURGENCE:  All but deified as soon as he died.

Did Michael Jackson Deliberately Follow Elvis’ Example?

Lisa Marie Presley has written in her MySpace blog about a conversation with ex-husband Michael Jackson, in which he said he thought he would end up like her father…Deepak Chopra has now written about Michael’s extensive prescription drug use, including narcotics.   Could have been deliberately following Presley’s example.   Similarities of their last acts:

http://channels.isp.netscape.com/celebrity/celebgossip.jsp?feature=ce_cel_06272009

When celebrities die at the same time

Do you know who died at almost the same time as Elvis Presley?

The legendary Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977, but with all the fuss over the demise of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll three days earlier, his passing was virtually overlooked by the media

Do you know who died the same week as Princess Diana?   The passing of one of the world’s great humanitarians – Mother Teresa – received comparatively scant notice a few days after The People’s Princess’ life ended in an automobile crash in Paris.

Poor Farrah Fawcett.   With Michael Jackson’s death, she’s already been moved down to the bottom of the news of the day.   And Ed…gone.