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Doc Pomus, aka Jerome Solon Felder (June 27, 1925 - March 14, 1991) was a twentieth-century American blues singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lyricist of many rock and roll hits. Pomus was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category of non-performer in 1992.[1] He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992.[2] and the Blues Hall of Fame.[3]




Early life

Born Jerome Solon Felder in 1925 in Brooklyn, New York, he had parents who were Jewish immigrants.[4] Felder became a fan of the blues after hearing Big Joe Turner on record. After having had polio as a boy, he used crutches for walking. Due to post-polio syndrome, exacerbated by an accident, Felder eventually used a wheelchair.

His brother is New York attorney Raoul Felder.


Using the stage name "Doc Pomus", Felder began performing as a teenager, becoming a white blues singer. In the 1950s, Pomus started songwriting to make more money to support a family, as he had married. 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 the hit songs: "A Teenager in Love"; "Save The Last Dance For Me"; "Hushabye"; "This Magic Moment"; "Turn Me Loose"; "Sweets For My Sweet"; "Go Jimmy Go", "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 several songs 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]

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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. These are considered by some, including writer Peter Guralnick, musician and songwriter Dr. John, and producer Joel Dorn to be signatures of his best craft.

He died in 1991 from lung cancer, at the age of 65.

Legacy and influence

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]

  • Pomus was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. and *In 1991 he was the first European-American (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 standards of songwriting by his 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 recorded by bluesman Son Seals, on Seals' last album, Lettin’ Go. [9]
  • Responsible for Lou Reed's introduction to the music industry in the early 1960s, Pomus was one of two friends Reed memorialized on his 1992 album Magic and Loss (the other was Rotten Rita).

Further reading

  • Alex Halberstadt (2007) Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life And Times Of Doc Pomus. New York: DeCapo Press.


External links


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