92Y to Celebrate Mike Stoller with Bettye LaVette, The Coasters & More, 12/9
On December 9, 2013 92Y celebrates songwriting legend Mike Stoller on the occasion of his 80th year with An 80th Birthday Celebration, a one-night-only Lyrics & Lyricists Special Event hosted by Paul Shaffer and directed and written by Randy Johnson (director/writer of A Night with Janis Joplin). Confirmed artists performing expected and unexpected interpretations from Stoller's genre-spanning career in blues, R&B, rock 'n' roll and jazz include legendary vocal group The Coasters, along with artists Karen Akers, Mary Bridget Davies, Corky Hale, Maria Elena Infantino, Sally Kellerman, Bettye Lavette, Melissa Manchester, Billy Stritch, Tommy Tune and Steve Tyrell. Backed by Tyrell's band, the artists perform some of the greatest songs written by Stoller with his longtime lyricist partner Jerry Leiber and others. Leiber will be the subject of a special tribute during the evening. Stoller is planning to be in attendance for the celebration.
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's iconic songs like "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock," "Poison Ivy," Yakety Yak," "Kansas City," "Ruby Baby," "Love Potion #9" and "Stand By Me" (with Ben E. King), bridged the gap between blues, R&B and mainstream rock 'n' roll in the 1950s and early 1960s, and their successes as writers and producers continued even as tastes and styles in the fast-changing musical landscape had "today's hits" becoming "where are they now" in a matter of months.
Peggy Lee's sultry 1968 recording of their song "Is That All There Is?" earned her a Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and their joint production of the Stealer's Wheel 1972 hit "Stuck in the Middle With You" achieved iconic status in the 1990s as the background music to a key scene in Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs.
The 1995 Broadway show Smokey Joe's Café, a musical revue based on their work, received seven Tony Award nominations and running for five years, became and remains the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.
A life-long musical experimenter, Stoller even explored avant-garde music in the early-60s, studying with the twelve-tone composer Stefan Wolpe. Stoller's Quartet for flute, bass clarinet, harp and cello was performed for its first time at 92nd Street Y in 1962.
Stoller has another 92Y connection - Leiber and Stoller were the subjects of the February 29, 1976 Lyrics & Lyricists show "An Evening with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller" as part of the venerable series' sixth season. Performers that night included The Coasters, Adrienne Albert, Sandy Stewart and Tasha Thomas.
Host Paul Shaffer is a musician/actor/author/comedian/composer who has been David Letterman's musical director, band leader and sidekick for more than 30 years. Shaffer began his career as musical director of the Toronto production of Godspell and spent five years with the original "Saturday Night Live," where he played keyboards, composed special musical material and, in 1980, became a featured performer. He served as musical director for the Blues Brothers, recorded with such diverse artists as Diana Ross, Yoko Ono and Robert Plant's Honeydrippers, composed the Late Show theme, co-wrote the Number One '80s hit "It's Raining Men" and had a memorable role in This Is Spinal Tap as hapless local promo man Artie Fufkin. Shaffer has served as musical director/producer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in 1986, playing many Leiber and Stoller songs over the years, including at their 1987 induction.