Allen's Blog
September, 2011

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In the Studio with Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, T-Bone Walker, and Legendary Jazz Musicians

I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘music photographer,’ but there is some evidence to the contrary. The latest reminder came early last week while watching NBC Nightly News and seeing an affectionate obit for Jerry Leiber, half of the legendary music-writing team of Leiber and Stoller. More articles appeared later in the week in print.  Much of the popular music I had listened and (poorly) danced to in high school and college came from their collaboration. Leiber wrote the lyrics and Stoller the music for the Coasters, the Drifters, and lots of groups as well as for Elvis Presley. Much later on, their music was turned into a hit Broadway musical, Smokey Joe’s Café, which opened in 1995.

Dizzy Gillespie

Our paths crossed just once, in New York in 1973, when I was assigned to shoot the studio production photos for an album by the great blues guitarist, T-Bone Walker. Leiber and Stoller produced the album, titled Very Rare, and the guest artists included Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, and Herbie Mann, among others.

Leiber & Stoller working at the mixing console

Over the years, my own musical tastes had changed, moving much more toward jazz, so it was a real thrill (no exaggeration) to be in the studio at the same time with the composers who had written the first tunes I knew by heart and, almost 20 years later, the artists whose music I had come to appreciate just as much. So it seemed a good idea to dig into the archives and put up a bunch of images to remember those days…

Gerry Mulligan

Herbie Mann

Zoot Sims

Jerry Leiber leaning on the mixing console