Before becoming one of the most prolific and acclaimed songwriters in rock history, Doc Pomus was a rock singer who was notable largely for reasons unrelated to his actual singing. Despite his commitment to performing he soon found he was better suited to crafting the work for others and left singing behind.

Pomus was born as Jerome Felder in 1925 Brooklyn, New York where he contracted polio as a boy which left him reliant on using crutches while still a young man before eventually landing him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Despite this affliction he was determined to make a career for himself as a singer, inspired by his idol Big Joe Turner. But polio wasn’t his only obstacle to success in this realm, for there were no white Jewish rock (or blues) singers in the 1940’s, in fact no white singers at all, and so Pomus drew notoriety initially for those features as much as for his enthusiastic efforts on the bandstand.

Yet his devotion to the music was genuine and he befriended many artists and won over audiences in spite of his rather limited vocal abilities, and thus possibly in an attempt to capitalize on the novelty aspect of his story he managed to get signed to record deals. His songs at this point though were rather pedestrian and clichéd, which is unfortunate and surprising considering his later efforts as a songwriter were anything BUT that.

Soon giving up performing he went on to a legendary career writing countless hits throughout the 1950’s and 60’s and becoming one of the most beloved behind the scenes figures in rock. After a life that dealt him nothing but bad cards that he somehow turned into winning hands, Pomus finally succumbed to lung cancer at 65 in 1991, a year before his induction to The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame as a non-performer… his first career AS a rock performer now but a footnote in his life’s story and the answer to the trivia question: Who was the first white artist to release a rock ‘n’ roll record.
DOC POMUS DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
(Savoy 5545; February, 1948)
Rather uninspiring ode to marijuana which elicits not even a mild high thanks to rote lyrics, third-rate performances by singer and band alike and no sense of direction, hoping to get by on the stigma of the topic and Pomus’s wholehearted effort to sell it. (2)

(Savoy 5545; February, 1948)
The enthusiasm of Pomus and the band working well in tandem allows this rather simple and clichéd ode to living it up to be carried past its deficiencies by never letting up on the throttle. (4)

(Apollo 401; May, 1949)
Undoubtedly the most heard of Pomus’s songs at the time thanks to its start as a commercial he sang for a Brooklyn clothing store on local radio, but upon expanding it to a record the weak point is still Doc’s woefully underpowered vocals which can’t even fully rescue the racy plot. (4)

(Apollo 401; May, 1949)
Somewhat vague, even potentially confusing story to try and focus on, as this is less about the nagging wife than the sweet mistress he’s got, but Pomus manages to at least shore up his performance deficiencies enough to make this worthwhile. (5)

(Derby 712; June, 1949)
Ill-equipped vocally to project the song as he wants and not experienced enough in life to craft the story with anything more than shallow clichés, Pomus’s wholehearted determination alone can’t save this. (2)

(Chess 1440; November, 1950)
Finally starting to show signs of creativity in his writing, this is a boastful track that features good lyrics, a nice rolling groove and a decent sax solo which off-sets Pomus’s weak projection and a few questionable arranging touches. (5)

(Chess 1440; November, 1950)
Though it might be just a little out of date stylistically, this is still the best Pomus has sounded as he slows down his usual freight train approach on a very well written song that allows him to be introspective and shows he could indeed deliver the goods as a performer. (6)

(Coral 65050; April, 1951)
Finally hitting his stride as an artist by crafting better songs and moderating his vocal delivery so as to stay in control of the emotional context and if the arrangement is a little too brassy, it’s reasonably well constructed resulting in his strongest effort. (6)