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Songwriting for The King: Giant-Baum-Kaye
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Songwriting for The King: Giant-Baum-Kaye

Bill Giant, Bernie Baum & Florence Kaye formed a well-oiled songwriting machine in the 60s. They wrote over 40 songs for Elvis Presley, the soundtrack of Kimba The White Lion, and a number #1 song from the 50s - later covered by jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal.

By DannyVeekens
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New York’s Brill Building is where the combined moniker of Giant-Baum-Kaye was born. The building just north of Times Square was considered a center for songwriting, big bands, and American popular music that dominated the Billboard charts in the 50s and 60s. That is where songwriter Florence Kaye, with a major degree in songwriting, met the classically trained Bernie Baum in 1950, and his friend Harvey Zimmerman (b.k.a. Bill Giant) a few years later.

A year prior to their first meeting, Baum already had mainstream success after the release of Teresa Brewer’s "Music! Music! Music! (Put Another Nickel In)", a song he co-wrote. It was actually an unexpected million-selling #1 hit, as the song was originally released as the B-side to a single called “Copenhagen” by the Dixieland All Stars singer. “Music! Music! Music!” was later covered and sampled by the likes of jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, The Beach Boys-related supergroup California Music, “Rock Around The Clock” icons Bill Haley & His Comets, and noughties indie pop band La Musique Populaire.

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There’s no doubt that that success—on top of early collaborations with the likes of Lee Fields and Dean Martin—contributed to eventually putting on their blue suede shoes to work with The King. The three songwriters were responsible for songs in half of Elvis Presley’s musical feature films in the 60s. Including Viva Las Vegas, Spinout, Double Trouble, and the Golden Globe-nominated Girls! Girls! Girls!

"Giant, Baum & Kaye were the short-order chefs of their era: Put under pressure, often for a matter of days, by the Colonel's publishing team, to create movie numbers," writes Mark Duffett in his 2018 book Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs. With the Giant-Baum-Kaye produced “Power of My Love” on the #44 spot.

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