Ervin Drake

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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

THE FOLLOWING IS WHOLLY ACCURATE AND IS QUOTED BY ERVIN'S LIVING SON JED: Ervin Drake (April 3, 1919- January 15, 2015) is an American songwriter. Born in New York City, he has been active producing music and lyrics beginning with his first song published at the age of 12 in 1931. He continued to write until his death on January 15th 2015. He was outspoken and has always promulgated the rights of all individuals regardless of political, religious, or sexual orientation. In 1946 the recording of his No Restricted Signs in Heaven was rejected by Capitol Records because its "civil rights theme might harm Capitol's business." Some of his best known songs include: Good Morning Heartache, I Believe, One God, It Was A Very Good Year, Tico-Tico, Al Di La, Quando, Quando, Quando. He had two Broadway shows where he wrote both music and lyrics: What Makes Sammy Run starring Steve Lawrence, book by Budd Schulberg, and Her First Roman starring Richard Kiley and Leslie Uggams. His music can be heard in several movies including Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever Woody Allen’s Radio Days, The Fabulous Baker Boys starring Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jeff and Beau Bridges. HBO’s Sopranos also featured his music. He produced over 700 prime time television shows working with such greats as, Johnny Carson, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, Andy Williams, and dozens of others. He was presented the Sylvania Award for his work as producer and songwriter of the television musical The Bachelor featuring Julie Wilson, Jayne Mansfield, and Carol Haney. He wrote the script and songs for the internationally televised birthday tribute to Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower To Our First Lady where he was flown in by helicopter and met the President and the First Lady. Drake’s material has been recorded by multitudes of artists including; Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra,Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Duke Ellington, Perry Como,Frankie Laine, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Robbie Williams, Desi Arnaz, Andy Williams, Sheryl Crow, Nat King Cole, Danny Kaye, Dotty West, LeAnn Rimes, Michael Feinstein, Ann Hampton Calloway, Julie Andrews, Ethel Merman, Bobby Short, Julie Wilson, Gloria Estefan and countless others in over 30 languages. He has been honored twice by the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, first with his induction in 1983 and most recently in 2011 his song It Was a Very Good Year was named Towering Song of the Year. He was also founding president of American Guild of Authors and Composers (presently called Songwriters Guild of America SGA .) He used this position to testify before Congress and single-handedly was the force that eventually increased royalty payments to composers in the USA by over 100%. He has countless honorary degrees from universities around the country as well. He was married for over 30 years to his wife and inspiration Edith Bermaine.


Ervin Drake (April 3, 1919 – January 15, 2015), birth name was Ervin Maurice Druckman, 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]

Biography[edit]

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]

Songs[edit]

Broadway[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Songwriters Hall of Fame - Ervin Drake Exhibit Home". Songwritershalloffame.org. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Ervin Drake". NNDb.com. 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]