Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Music From The 1950’s – Doc Pomus

Doc Pomus

Doc Pomus

I listen to a great deal of music from the 50’s from SInatra and Fitzgerald through Rock & Roll, Blues, Jazz, Country and Folk, I believe the decade is often overlooked as people tend to find that the sound quality of the recordings aren’t up to the standards they are used to, however, to me some of greatest music ever recorded came from this decade therefore here in the first of a series of posts is a great song from 1950 by Doc Pomus called “Send For The Doctor”

Born Jerome Solon Felder in Brooklyn, New York of Jewish heritage,[4] he became a fan of the blues after hearing Big Joe Turner on record. Pomus had polio as a boy and got around on crutches. Due to post-polio syndrome, exacerbated by an accident, he eventually used a wheelchair. He died in 1991 from lung cancer, at the age of 65.

His brother is New York attorney Raoul Felder.

Using the stage name “Doc Pomus,” he began performing as a teenager, becoming a white blues singer. In the 1950s, Pomus started songwriting in order to make enough money to support his wife. By 1957, Pomus had given up performing in order to devote himself full-time to songwriting. He collaborated with pianist Mort Shuman to write for Hill & Range Music Co./Rumbalero Music at its offices in New York City’s Brill Building. Their songwriting efforts had Pomus write the lyrics and Shuman the melody, although quite often they worked on both. They wrote these hit songs: “A Teenager in Love“; “Save The Last Dance For Me“; “Hushabye“; “This Magic Moment“; “Turn Me Loose“; “Sweets For My Sweet“; “Can’t Get Used to Losing You“; “Little Sister“; “Suspicion“; “Surrender“; “Viva Las Vegas“; and “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame.”

During the late 1950s and early 1960s Pomus also wrote with Phil Spector (“Young Boy Blues”; “Ecstasy”; “Here Comes The Night”; “What Am I To Do?”), Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber (“Young Blood” and “She’s Not You”) and other Brill Building-era writers. Pomus also wrote “Lonely Avenue“, which became a 1956 hit for Ray Charles.[5]

In the 1970s and 1980s in his eleventh-floor, two-room apartment, at the Westover Hotel at 253 West 72nd Street, Pomus wrote songs with Dr. John, Ken Hirsch and Willy DeVille for what he said were “…those people stumbling around in the night out there, uncertain or not always so certain of exactly where they fit in and where they were headed.” These later songs (“There Must Be A Better World,” “There Is Always One More Time,” “That World Outside,” “You Just Keep Holding On,” and “Something Beautiful Dying” in particular), which were recorded by Willy DeVille, B. B. King, Irma Thomas, Marianne Faithful, Charlie Rich, Ruth Brown, Dr. John, James Booker, and Johnny Adams, are considered by some, including writer Peter Guralnick, musician, songwriter Dr. John and producer Joel Dorn to be signatures of his best craft.

Together with Shuman and individually, Pomus was a key figure in the development of popular music. They wrote such hits as “Save the Last Dance for Me“, “This Magic Moment“, “Sweets for My Sweet“, “Viva Las Vegas“, “Little Sister”, “Surrender“, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You“, “Suspicion“, “Turn Me Loose” and “A Mess of Blues”.[6] He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1991 was the first white recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award.[7] Ray Charles did the honors via a pre-recorded message. The songs written and co-written by Pomus are referenced as standards of songwriting by token of sheer prolific consistency, and continue to be covered by musicians of every generation.

The song “Doc’s Blues” [8] was written as a tribute to Pomus by his close friend, Andrew Vachss. The lyrics originally appeared in Vachss’ 1990 novel Blossom. Doc’s Blues was later recorded by bluesman Son Seals, on Seals’ last album, Lettin’ Go. [9] He was personally responsible for Lou Reed‘s exposure to the music industry in the early 1960s, and is one of two friends memorialized on Reed’s 1992 album Magic and Loss (the other being Rotten Rita).

In 1995, Rhino Records released a tribute album to Pomus titled Till The Night Is Gone. It offers performances of Pomus songs by Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Dion, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Solomon Burke, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin, Aaron Neville, Lou Reed, The Band, B. B. King, Los Lobos and Rosanne Cash.

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September 30, 2008 Posted by | Music From The 50's, Old Music | | 2 Comments

   

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