Behind every megastar is a group of creative people who helped catapult that star to the top of the heap. Among the many talented folks who helped Elvis Presley earn his crown as the King of Rock & Roll were Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The legendary songwriting duo pounded out a slew of hits for Presley during his career. For Jailhouse Rock, screening today at a special matinee, not only did the guys write all four songs Elvis sings in the movie, but, as recounted in Leiber and Stoller's breezy and terrific new autobiography, Hound Dog, they also concocted all those songs in one afternoon. (In the book, Elvis comes across as a real decent chap, though at times maybe a tad insecure, while his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was a prick.) Leiber and Stoller got the Jailhousegig after Presley's version of Hound Dog originally written as a blues number for Big Mama Thornton became a smash hit. And in the movie's scenes where Elvis sings with the band, that's Stoller at the piano. (Fearing that it would be a "scene-stealer," MGM made Stoller shave his goatee.) One tidbit from Stoller exclusively for L.A. Weekly readers it's not in the book is that the original title of the film was Ghost of a Chance. Few people know that Jailhouse Rock was the name of one of the songs before it became the name of the film. Just a little peek behind the showbiz curtain for ya, kids!
Tue., Aug. 10, 1 p.m., 2010