A/K/A Doc Pomus
Doc Pomus was a profoundly influential and inspiring figure in the history of popular music both for his prodigious output as a songwriter and for the remarkable success he enjoyed in spite of a physical handicap that dogged him for his entire adult life.
Born Jerome Felder in 1925 and stricken with polio at a very young age, Pomus was captivated by the Blues music he heard on the radio as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. At age 17 he started hanging around Jazz clubs in Greenwich Village. To avoid being ejected from a club he wasn’t legally allowed to be in, the inexperienced but starry-eyed teen claimed to be a Blues singer waiting for his turn on the bandstand. The impromptu performance that followed opened up a whole new world to him and he returned to the club every night for months, in spite of the long arduous commute he was forced to endure on crutches. All this was on the sly, and as his popularity grew the young man changed his name so that his mother wouldn’t see “JEROME FELDER” on the club’s marquee.
The newly christened Doc Pomus went on to cut over 50 sides in a 14-year career as a Blues singer before was approached by Ahmet Ertegun to write songs for Atlantic Records. Otis Blackwell brought Pomus and songwriting partner Mort Schuman to Hill and Range publishers where they cranked out countless hits for the Drifters, Dion & The Belmonts, Big Joe Turner, the Coasters and dozens more. From their Brill Building office the prolific Pomus and Schuman spun numerous numbers for Elvis Presley’s string of film soundtracks. Indeed, a complete list of Pomus-penned hits from the early ‘60s would include some of the most familiar songs of the era, including “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “Viva Las Vegas” and “This Magic Moment”. About Doc’s song “Teenager In Love”, Bob Dylan once said, “All you need to know is in that song.”
Featuring the voice of Lou Reed reading from Doc’s personal journals, A/K/A Doc Pomus is a long-overdue documentary on this songwriting legend. The film opened earlier this month in Los Angeles and New York.