Wrote "Blueberry Hill" made famous by Fats Domino
Larry Stock was born in 1896, the son of a cellist with the New York Symphony Orchestra. Before his eighth birthday, Stock was playing the piano, and at 12, was accepted by the Institute of Musical Art in New York, which later was renamed The Juilliard School. Graduating at 16, he continued his studies at The City College of New York. Stock also studied piano with a then prominent teacher, Clarence Adler.
"I was trained to be a concert artist," Stock was once quoted as saying, "but after graduating from college, there weren’t many jobs around for a young man. It was the Great Depression, you know, so I was happy to get occasional work in nightspots."
Performing in clubs left time during the day for other pursuits and Stock used them for songwriting at which he became accomplished but generally unrecognized, until 1938, when after a decade of effort, he enjoyed his first major success with "Umbrella Man." Perry Como also looked favorably on Larry Stock's material and subsequently recorded a number of his tunes, including "Did You Ever Get That Feeling in the Moonlight," "You Won't Be Satisfied Until You've Broken My Heart," "With All My Heart and Soul" and "If Wishes Were Kisses."
Over the course of nearly a half century of writing and composing, Larry Stock turned out literally scores of songs that became hits, noting at another juncture, that "I have more than a thousand unpublished songs." Most popular of all his songs was "Blueberry Hill," which, coincidentally, was a major hit recording for Fats Domino. Another song, the earlier "Umbrella Man," ultimately surpassed "Blueberry Hill" in sales, selling over 50 million records and more than a million pieces of sheet music. Both songs were co?written with Vince Rose.
"I wrote the lyrics for both songs," Stock recalls, "although I've written music for others and many times, both words and music. One important publisher turned down 'Blueberry Hill,' because, he claimed, blueberries don' t grow on hills. I assured him I had picked them on hills as a boy, but nothing doing. So Chappell and Company bought the song and another hit was born."
The timing of "Umbrella Man," written in 1938, was a big help since its release coincided with the umbrella?toting British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain's trip to Munich to sign what turned out to be a phony peace accord with the Nazis. The public quickly made the association and rushed to buy. Kenny Baker, the tenor on the Jack Benny radio show, also helped send the song on its way by performing it on the program.
An even bigger success story was the song, "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You," which has become an almost traditional nightclub specialty tune to bring a performance to a crescendo of applause. The song has been recorded successfully literally scores of times by prominent artists. Larry Stock was also the composer of a favorite Christmas song, "The Cradle in Bethlehem," which found its way into the late Nat King Cole's Christmas album, still popular today over 50 years later.
Larry Stock was posthumously inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1998.