Songwriters of the 1950’s
by Erika Cox
The building contained everything a musician needed. One could find a songwriter, cut a demo, promote the record, and cut a deal with radio promoters all within this one building.
The offices inside the building were small and cramped for a studio with just enough room for a piano, bench and perhaps a chair.
Similar to a regular office with employees working
in small cubicles, there would be a number of songwriters sitting in
small spaces writing songs, while next to them was the next songwriter
writing away on another song.
Krishner had some of the best songwriters on hand. The first songwriting duo was Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote songs for various artists, created their own record label, Sparks Record.
Although Atlantic eventually bought Sparks, Leiber and Stoller continued to work as independent producers for Atlantic.
Phil Spector did sort of an apprenticeship with the duo, learning all the skills necessary to successfully produce his own groups. Leiber and Stoller wrote a number of hit songs.
For example, they wrote “Hound Dog” for Big Mama Thornton, which later became a huge hit for Elvis Presley and “Stand By Me”, one of the most popular Doo-Wop songs sung by the Drifters.
Leiber and Stoller were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The next popular duo was Howie Greenfield and Neil Sedaka who wrote a number of pure pop hit songs.
Sedaka was a singer, but joined with Greenfield to produce a number of
hit songs for himself and artists like Connie Francis.
The songs dealt with the typical themes; love, rejection, jealousy, and teenage experiences. A few of their songs were “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles, “The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva, and “Take Good Care of My Baby” by Bobby Vee.
King and Goffin were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, another husband and wife songwriting team, were the most productive and talented duos at the Brill Building besides King and Goffin.
They had a string of successful hits throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s with various artists, and in 1987 the duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The last successful songwriting duo to mention is Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, another husband and wife duo, they also produced and wrote many of the teenage related songs of the 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Greenwich and Barry were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991. This wide range of talented songwriters were very instrumental in writing successful songs and contributing to the success of many groups.
The songwriters at the Brill Building
brought professionalism, quality, and maturity to rock and roll and pop
music and they also influenced future songwriters like John Lennon,
Holland, Dozier and Holland just to name a few.
The Brill Building
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