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Leiber, who wrote some of rock and roll's biggest hits, dies at 78

By Ed Payne, CNN
Jerry Leiber (right), along with Mike Stoller (left), wrote jukebox favorites through the 1950s and 1960s, including "Hound Dog."
Jerry Leiber (right), along with Mike Stoller (left), wrote jukebox favorites through the 1950s and 1960s, including "Hound Dog."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jerry Leiber wrote some of the top hit songs in the '50s and '60s
  • He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985
  • He joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years later
  • Leiber met his songwriting partner, Mike Stoller, in 1950

(CNN) -- Songwriter and record producer Jerry Leiber, who penned hits for Elvis Presley, Ben E. King and the Coasters, died in a Los Angeles hospital Monday. He was 78.

Leiber paired with Mike Stoller in 1950, when both were 17 years old, to form one of the most prolific songwriting teams of the day. Their hits were jukebox staples through the 1950s and 1960s.

"He was my friend, my buddy, my writing partner for 61 years," Stoller said. "He had a way with words. There was nobody better. I'm going to miss him."

Elvis took their song "Hound Dog" to the top of the charts in 1956. The tune was No. 19 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time," which came out in 2004.

The team also wrote "Stand by Me" for Ben E. King, "Kansas City," which was made famous by Wilbert Harrison, "On Broadway," top singles for the Drifters and George Benson, and a string of hits for the Coasters, including "Young Blood," "Searchin'," and "Yakety Yak."

Dozens of other artists from country to blues to R&B and rock recorded their songs.

Leiber, along with Stoller, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

iReport: Leiber and Stoller interviewed in 2010

"Leiber and Stoller advanced rock and roll to new heights of wit and musical sophistication," says their Rock Hall biography. "They were particularly influential during rock and roll's first decade."

Leiber, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, was born in 1933 and grew up in Baltimore. He is survived by his three sons -- Jed, Oliver, and Jake -- and two granddaughters, Chloe and Daphne.