Jerome Solon Felder (June 27, 1925 – March 14, 1991), known as Doc
Pomus, was an American blues singer and songwriter. He is best
known as the lyricist of many rock and roll hits. Pomus was inducted
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer in 1992, the
Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame (1992), and the
Blues Hall of Fame
1 Early life
3 Legacy and influence
4 Further reading
6 External links
Born Jerome Solon Felder in 1925 in Brooklyn, New York, he was the son
Jewish immigrants. Felder became a fan of the blues after
Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner record. Having had polio as a boy, he walked
with the help of crutches. Later, due to post-polio syndrome,
exacerbated by an accident, Felder eventually relied on a wheelchair.
His brother is New York attorney Raoul Felder.
Using the stage name "Doc Pomus", teenager Felder began performing as
a blues singer. His stage name was not inspired by anyone in
particular; he just thought it sounded better for a blues singer than
the name Jerry Felder. Pomus stated that more often than not, he was
the only Caucasian in the clubs, but that as a Jew and a polio victim,
he felt a special "underdog" kinship with African Americans, while in
turn the audiences both respected his courage and were impressed with
his talent. Gigging at various clubs in and around New York City,
Pomus often performed with the likes of Milt Jackson,
Mickey Baker and
King Curtis. Pomus recorded approximately 40 sides as a singer in the
'40s and '50s for record companies such as Chess, Apollo, Gotham and
In the early 1950s, Pomus started writing magazine articles as well as
songwriting for artists such as Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles
Big Joe Turner
Big Joe Turner to earn more money to support a family, after he
had married Willi Burke, a Broadway actress. His first big songwriting
break came when he chanced upon the Coasters' version of his "Young
Blood" on a jukebox while on honeymoon. Pomus wrote the song, then
gave it to
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who radically rewrote it.
Still, Pomus had co-credit as author, and he soon received a royalty
check for $2,500, which convinced him that songwriting was a career
direction worth pursuing. By 1957, Pomus had given up performing for
full-time songwriting. He collaborated with pianist Mort Shuman, whom
he met when Shuman was dating Pomus's younger cousin, to write for
Hill & Range Music Co./Rumbalero Music at its offices in New York
City's Brill Building. Pomus asked Shuman to write with him because
Pomus didn't then know much about rock and roll, whereas Shuman was
familiar with many popular artists of the day. Their songwriting
efforts had Pomus write the lyrics and Shuman the melody, although
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" (a hit for
The Drifters and
then The Searchers), "Go Jimmy Go", "Little Sister", "Can't Get Used
to Losing You", "Suspicion", "Surrender" and "(Marie's the Name) His
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Pomus wrote several songs with
Phil Spector ("Young Boy Blues"; "Ecstasy"; "What Am I To Do?"), Mike
Jerry Leiber ("Young Blood" and "She's Not You"), and
other Brill Building-era writers. Pomus also wrote "Lonely Avenue", a
1956 hit for Ray Charles.
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)—recorded by
Willy DeVille, B.B. King, Irma Thomas, Marianne Faithfull, Charlie
Rich, Ruth Brown, Dr. John, James Booker, and Johnny Adams—are
considered by some, including writer Peter Guralnick, musician and
songwriter Dr. John, and producer Joel Dorn, to be signatures of his
The documentary film A.K.A.
Doc Pomus (2012), conceived by Pomus'
daughter Sharyn Felder, directed by filmmaker Peter Miller, edited by
Amy Linton and produced by Felder, Hechter and Miller, details Pomus'
Pomus died on March 14, 1991 from lung cancer, at the age of 65 at NYU
medical center in Manhattan.
Legacy and influence
Further information: List of songs written by
Doc Pomus and Mort
Together with Shuman and individually, Pomus was a key figure in the
development of popular music. They co-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".
Pomus was elected to the
Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1991 he was the first non-African-American recipient of the Rhythm
Blues Foundation Pioneer Award.
Ray Charles presented the award
via a pre-recorded message.
The funk band Cameo was heavily influenced by Pomus's song-writing
style and frequently acknowledges his impact before performing their
hit song "Word Up."
Longtime friend jazz singer
Jimmy Scott performed at Pomus's funeral,
which performance singularly resurrected his career. Other attendees
included Seymour Stein, who subsequently signed Scott to Sire Records,
and Lou Reed, who thereafter would regularly work with Scott until his
death. Pomus had been imploring his friends to see Scott play for many
The song "Doc's Blues" 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.
Responsible for Lou Reed's introduction to the music industry in the
early 1960s, Pomus was one of two friends Reed memorialized on his
Magic and Loss
Magic and Loss (the other was Rotten Rita).
Rhino Records released a tribute album to Pomus entitled Till
The Night Is Gone. Pomus songs are performed by Bob Dylan, Brian
Wilson, Dion, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Solomon Burke, John Hiatt, Shawn
Colvin, Aaron Neville, Lou Reed, The Band, B.B. King,
Los Lobos and
Ben Folds and
Nick Hornby named their collaborative album
Lonely Avenue, on which the song "Doc Pomus" appeared. The lyrics
referenced an excerpt from Pomus's uncompleted memoir, February 21,
1984: "I was never one of those happy cripples who stumbled around
smiling and shiny-eyed, trying to get the world to cluck its tongue
and shake its head sadly in my direction. They’d never look at me
and say, 'What a wonderful, courageous fellow.'" The album featured
lyrics written by British author Hornby, set to music by American
performer Folds. It was released on September 28, 2010.
John Goodman's character in the Coen brothers' 2013 dramedy Inside
Llewyn Davis was loosely inspired by Pomus. Pomus' song catalog is
managed by his son-in-law Will Bratton thtrough Spirit One Music in
the U.S. territory.
Halberstadt, Alex (2007). Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life And Times
Of Doc Pomus. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306813009.
^ Obituary Variety, March 18, 1991.
Doc Pomus - Induction Year: 1992 - Induction Category:
Non-Performer". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved
^ "Doc Pomus". Songwriters Hall Of Fame. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
Blues Foundation Announces 2012
Blues Hall of Fame Inductees".
confessingtheblues. Archived from the original on 2014-03-03.
^ Tamarkini, Jeff (2007-04-03). "Heart of the matter". The Phoenix.
Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman". www.history-of-rock. Retrieved
Doc Pomus - Biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
^ "Rhythm and
Blues Foundation 1991 Pioneer Awards".
^ Ritz, David (2002). Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Da Capo. p. 4.
^ "Doc's Blues". Retrieved 2007-02-04.
^ "Lettin' Go". Retrieved 2007-02-04.
^ Evans, Greg (2013-10-01). "Coens Evoke NY Folk Scene; Hanks Battles
Pirates: Movies". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
The Official Home Page Of Pomus Songs, Inc.
Doc Pomus at AllMusic
Doc Pomus Biography
Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 1992
Booker T. & the M.G.'s (Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Al
Jackson Jr., Booker T. Jones, Lewie Steinberg)
The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers (Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley Jr.,
Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley, Chris Jasper)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Jimi Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell, Noel
Sam & Dave (Sam Moore, Dave Prater)
The Yardbirds (Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty,
Jimmy Page, Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith)
(Ahmet Ertegun Award)
ISNI: 0000 0000 8110 5533
BNF: cb13935712w (data)