#TwoForTuesday: Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman


This will be the last songwriting team I’ll feature for this series on Two for Tuesday. There are lots more, I know, and at some point I might revisit the topic, but this is a good stopping point.

Doc Pomus was a performer who began songwriting for Ray Charles, Lavern Baker, Big Joe Turner, and other blues and R&B artists in the early 1950’s to earn extra money to support his family. He wrote the song “Young Blood” and gave it to Lieber and Stoller, who changed it drastically but gave a songwriting credit to him. When he received his first royalty check for $1500, he decided songwriting was the way to go. Between 1957 and 1964 he collaborated with pianist Mort Shulman and wrote songs for Elvis Presley, The Drifters, Ben E. King, Bobby Vinton, Andy Williams, and The Flamingoes, among others. Separately, Pomus worked with Lieber and Stoller, Dr. John, and Alan Jeffreys, while Shulman worked with Clive Westlake, Kenny Lynch, Jerry Ragavoy, and others. Both men are in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame; Pomus is also in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.

One of their most successful songs was “Save The Last Dance For Me,” recorded by The Drifters in 1960, when it reached #1 on the US Pop and R&B charts and #2 on the UK singles chart. It’s been recorded by The DeFranco Family, Dolly Parton, Ben E. King, and others, most recently by Michael Bublé in 2006. Here is the original.

They wrote the song “Suspicion” for Elvis Presley, who recorded it in 1961. It failed to chart for him, but Terry Stafford recorded it in 1964 and took it to #3 on the US Pop chart and #31 on the UK Singles chart. Here’s his version.

Doc Pomus and Mort Shulman, your Two for Tuesday, December 29, 2015. See you next year!