Ervin Drake

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ervin Drake
Ervin Drake.jpg
Drake in January 2006
Background information
Born (1919-04-03)April 3, 1919
Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Died January 15, 2015(2015-01-15) (aged 95)
Great Neck, New York, United States
Occupation(s) Songwriter
Years active 1931–2015

Ervin Maurice Druckman (April 3, 1919 – January 15, 2015), better known as Ervin Drake, was an American songwriter whose works include such American Songbook standards as "I Believe" and "It Was a Very Good Year". He wrote in a variety of styles and his work has been recorded by musicians around the world. In 1983, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[1]


Born in New York City, New York,[2] Ervin Drake had his first song published at age 12, in 1931. The son of Max Druckman and Pearl Cohen, he attended Townsend Harris High School in the borough of The Bronx, New York, graduating in 1935, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science from the City College of New York in 1940.[2] His elder brother, Milton, also became a songwriter, with work including "The Java Jive" and "Nina Never Knew"; and his younger brother Arnold Drake, become a writer for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and others, as well as an author and playwright.[3]

Drake provided lyrics for "Perdido", composed by trombonist Juan Tizol, a member of Duke Ellington's orchestra, and first recorded (by Ellington) in 1944. Besides composing music and lyrics for dozens of pieces he was also a television producer and worked with performers including Jackie Gleason and Milton Berle. Among his best known songs is "I Believe", the first hit song ever introduced on television, which was commissioned and introduced by Jane Froman on her television show in 1953, and became a number-one hit for Frankie Laine, holding the record for number of non-consecutive weeks spent at number one. It has also been recorded by many other artists including Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley.

He wrote the words and music for "It Was a Very Good Year" in 1961, when a publisher friend told him that Bob Shane of the folk music group the Kingston Trio would be in the publisher's office the next morning, and the publisher asked Drake to write a song for Shane to sing solo.[4] Shane recorded it for the album Goin' Places and other folk performers covered it.[3] In a 2009 interview, Drake said that in 1965, Frank Sinatra had heard the song on his car radio, and recorded it for the melancholy and introspective album September of My Years.[3] The Sinatra recording hit the top ten on the charts for 1966. The piece has been recorded in over 10 languages and more than 50 artists.[citation needed] As lyricist, Drake, with composer Irene Higginbotham, wrote the jazz standard "Good Morning Heartache". It has been recorded by over 100 artists, including Billie Holiday and later Diana Ross when she portrayed Holiday in the movie Lady Sings the Blues.[citation needed]

He was president of American Guild of Authors and Composers from 1973 to 1982.[2]

On January 15, 2015, Drake died at his home in Great Neck, New York due to complications from bladder cancer aged 95.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Drake received several honorary doctorates and achievement awards, as well as being inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1983.[2]

On June 30, 2013, Five Towns College named the Ervin Drake Popular Music Center after Drake.

Works include[edit]


  • "Tico-Tico"
  • "Perdido"
  • "Now I Have Everything"
  • "A Room without Windows"
  • "Bachelor Girl"
  • "I Believe"
  • "Good Morning Heartache"
  • "It Was a Very Good Year"
  • "The Rickety Rickshaw Man"
  • "I Wuv A Rabbit"
  • "AL DI LA"
  • "Who Are These Strangers"
  • "I am A Card Carrying Bleeding Heart Liberal"
  • "One God"
  • "Tic-Toc"
  • "Lying Beneath A Scrubby Palmetto"
  • "I've Never Had The Pleasure"[4][6]



  1. ^ "Songwriters Hall of Fame - Ervin Drake Exhibit Home". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Ervin Drake". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Friedwald, Will (April 2, 2009). "When He Was 46 it Was a Very Good Year". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-04-13. . WebCitation archive.
  4. ^ a b John Bush. "Ervin Drake - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Bernstein, Adam (January 15, 2015). "Ervin Drake, songwriter of ‘It Was a Very Good Year,’ dies at 95". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-01-15. 
  6. ^ "Ervin Drake - Songs". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 

External links[edit]