Top 10 Doc Pomus Songs

Doc Pomus Songs

Feature Photo: Gottlieb, William P., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The top 10 Doc Pomus mainly covers some of the most popular material the singer-songwriter produced as one of the entertainment industry’s brightest talents since the 1940s. He originally started out as a blues singer, performing at clubs in New York City and its surrounding communities. Instead of using his birth name Jerome Felder, he chose what he felt would serve him best as a performer. This paid off for the man as his charm and talent earned him a place of recognition as a legitimate music star.

Doc in the House

Despite being born as a Jewish citizen with polio in Brooklyn, New York in 1925, Felder wasn’t about to let this get in the way of his determination to perform as a blues singer before a live audience. On stage, he felt at home, as he earned the respect of the audience and fellow performers everywhere he went. They loved the man not simply because of his courage but the fact he had the talent to win over an appreciative crowd. He performed with other greats such as Mickey Baker, King Curtis, and Milt Jackson. Between the 1940s and 1950s, Doc Pomus recorded several records before deciding writing was his true passion. Going into the 1950s, he wrote articles and songs for various publications and recording artists. From 1957 until 1966, he was married to aspiring Broadway actress Willi Burke.

As a songwriter, Pomus often collaborated with pianist Mort Shuman. The two were later introduced to Hill & Range Music Co./Rumbalero Music in New York City. Together, these two men wrote some of the biggest hits ever to hit the radio charts. Pomus also wrote songs with Jerry Leiber, Phil Spector, and Mike Stoller. New York City’s Brill Building had a team of talented songwriters that had a profound impact on the music industry with hit after hit. Going into the 1970s, Pomus continued as a prolific songwriter. The pace continued into the 1980s as several recording artists owed some of their greatest hits to the man’s songwriting talent.

Doc’s Legacy

On March 14, 1991, Doc Pomus passed away at the age of sixty-five years old after losing his battle with lung cancer. This was the same year he became the first non-African American to receive the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer, as well as into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. The influence of Doc Pomus included the launch of Jimmy Scott’s career as a jazz singer, as well as Lou Reed. Although Pomus himself is gone, the legacy he’s left behind lives on.

Top 10 Doc Pomus Songs

#10 – Hushabye (performed by The Mystics)

Originally, Doc Pomus had “A Teenager in Love” written as a song for the doo-wop group, The Mystics. However, it went to Dion and the Belmonts, prompting Pomus to come up with ‘Hushabye” in its stead. It became a number twenty hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. By request, Pomus and his songwriting partner, Mort Shuman were asked to style “Hushabye” similar to 1958’s “Little Star” by the Elegants. The end result borrowed the same pattern as the song that inspired “Little Star” with “Hush-a-bye” as the opening to what became the only real hit The Mystics experienced as a group.

 

#9 – A Teenager in Love (performed by Dion and the Belmonts)

“A Teenager in Love” was a song recorded by Dion and the Belmonts in 1959. Doc Pomus wrote this song with his partner, Mort Shuman, from the perspective of a high school student. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number-five hit. In Canada, it peaked as high as number two and was a number twenty-eight hit in the UK. Marty Wilde’s cover version was also released in 1959, becoming a number two hit on the UK Singles Chart. Originally, this song was written with the intent of The Mystics to record it but was given to Dion and the Belmonts instead. The production crew at the time made an executive decision “A Teenager in Love” was a hit potential at its best with a recording artist as established as Dion and the Belmonts. It became one of the group’s signature hits that still holds ground as a cult classic.

 

#8 – Viva Las Vegas (performed by Elvis Presley)

In 1964, Elvis Presley recorded and released the hit single, “Viva Las Vegas.” This upbeat song celebrated the fast-paced excitement of a city riddled with casinos, live shows, and pretty women. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, this became an all-time classic that would not only become a hit for Elvis Presley but for ZZ Top when they performed their version in 1992. In 1964, “Viva Las Vegas” was a number twenty-nine hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 1992, it peaked at number sixteen. For both recording artists, it was a global hit among the nations of Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK. “Viva Las Vegas” became one of Elvis Presley’s most recognized songs. This was also the case for Doc Pomus. It serves as an anthem for Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as a favorite song of choice for film and television.

 

#7 – She’s Not You (performed by Elvis Presley)

“She’s Not You” was a song Elvis Presley performed in 1962 that would be another hit for the man at number two on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number thirteen on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, and the UK, it was a number-one hit. It was Doc Pomus who wrote the song, along with the assistance of fellow songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Elvis Presley sang as a man trying to move on with a new love interest, reality hits she doesn’t quite measure up to his true love interest to whom his heart is still drawn to.

 

#6 – Can’t Get Used to Losing You (performed by Andy Williams)

Performed by Andy Williams, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” became a number two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 after it was released as a single in 1963. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, this became a cult classic that also became a number seven hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number two. The appeal of the song had several recording artists perform their own versions but the most popular came from The Beat in 1983, at least among the European nations. It peaked as high as number two in Ireland and at number three on the UK Singles Chart. It was also a number nine hit in Belgium and the Netherlands, and a number forty-seven hit in New Zealand. “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” has been covered by a long list of big-name recording artists. Most recently, Colour Girl turned this song into a modernized hit in 2000 as it peaked as high as number thirty-one on the UK Singles Chart. The timing of this song came three years before Pomus divorced his wife, Willi Burke. The song itself expressed the anguish of a man who realized the love of his life was moving on without him.

 

#5 – Go, Jimmy, Go (performed by Jimmy Clanton)

Originally, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote “Go, Bobby, Go” for Bobby Rydell. However, his heart really didn’t seem to be into it as he didn’t like the idea of performing a song that had his name as part of the title. So, it was rearranged to “Go, Jimmy, Go” and was performed by Jimmy Clanton. Unlike Rydell, he put full heart into a song that became a feisty number-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as a number-nineteen hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. This 1959 hit became a cult classic that would become one of his signature hits. When it was first released, “Go, Jimmy, Go” was a popular tune played at dancing venues as teenagers couldn’t get enough swinging about from the start of this upbeat song to the finish.

 

#4 – This Magic Moment (performed by The Drifters)

The lyrics behind “This Magic Moment” came from Doc Pomus while the piano composition came from Mort Shuman. The Drifters recorded this song first in 1960, turning it into one of their biggest hits of all time. “This Magic Moment” became a musical icon as a hit single, as well as a favorite piece used in movies, television, and commercials. On the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it peaked as high as number four. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number sixteen hit. It was also popular enough to chart as high as number twenty in Canada.

This romantic song celebrated the emotional rush that comes to someone when caught up in an unforgettable experience worth singing about. To this day, “This Magic Moment” remains a favorite wedding song to dance to, as well as during anniversaries and special date nights. Eight years after The Drifters released the original version as a single, Jay and the Americans covered this song with just as much finesse. Their version became a number-one hit in Canada, a number-six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, and a number-eleven hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.

 

#3 – Surrender (performed by Elvis Presley)

In 1961, Elvis Presley recorded and released “Surrender,” a song that would become a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart. Written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, the ballad was inspired by the Neapolitan classic, “Torna a Surriento.” The beauty of the song itself is at its best when performed with vocal vulnerability. It was an art form Presley knew well as it consistently kept him at the top as a best-selling recording artist. As well as he shook those hips, he was equally capable of delivering romantic ballads that had women swooning every single time. As a songwriter, Pomus was a genius as he lived his life as a poet. “Surrender” remains a timeless classic as it continues to be covered by recording artists today.

 

#2 – Young Blood (performed by The Coasters)

“Young Blood” was a hit single Doc Pomus wrote that featured The Coasters as the recording artist. After it was released as a single in 1957, this became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, as well as a number-eight hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. For Pomus, this was his breakthrough hit as a songwriter. He wrote this song with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as a bluesy number about a boy meeting girl but failing to impress her father which puts a strain on his relationship with her. Despite being apart, he still yearned to be with her. Regarded as one of the greatest songs of all time, “Young Blood” remains a classic favorite among a fan base who agree the earliest days of rock and roll still reign supreme as a genre favorite. Since its original release, “Young Blood” has been covered by some of the music industry’s top talent such as The Beatles and Bad Company.

 

#1 – Save the Last Dance for Me (performed by The Drifters)

In 1960, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote “Save the Last Dance for Me,” a song that became the biggest hit for The Drifters as a recording artist. It became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and the music charts belonging to Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked as high as number two. This classic ballad of a man addressing his love interest, pointing out it was he that brought her to the dance floor and it is he she should remember to dance with before the night is over. This song was actually written on the day of Doc Pomus’ wedding as he watched his new bride mingle and dance the night away with the guests. Already, this song is a classic without knowing the true tale that goes with it. Even on his own wedding night, the talent of Pomus didn’t hold anything back.

Doc Pomus Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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