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Ervin M. Drake

Composer, Writer, Lyricist
( b. Apr 03, 1919 New York, New York, USA - d. Jan 15, 2015 Great Neck, New York, USA ) Male
Ervin M. Drake wrote lyrics and music, produced television programs and was president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers. His "Now That I Have Everything" debuted the same day he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, a fitting coda for a career that was punctuated by hit versions of his songs, like Frank Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year," Billie Holiday's "Good Morning Heartache" and the inspirational "I Believe," sung by Frankie Laine.

Writing English lyrics for Spanish melodies, Mr. Drake scored his first big hits in the 1940s with "Tico-Tico" and "The Rickety Rickshaw Man," which sold more than a million copies.

He later collaborated with Irene Higginbotham on the lyrics for "Good Morning Heartache," which Miss Holiday recorded in 1946. (She was said to have called it one of her favorite songs.) It was later recorded by a host of singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross and Alicia Keys.

"I Believe" was commissioned by Jane Froman, the singer and actress, as an antidote to angst over the Korean War. Described as the first hit song introduced on television, it was a huge hit for Mr. Laine in 1953 and has been recorded by dozens of others, including Elvis Presley, Perry Como and Patti LaBelle. (Mr. Drake shares songwriting credit with Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl and Al Stillman.)

Mr. Drake wrote the words and music for the wistful "It Was a Very Good Year" in 1961 for Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio. Mr. Sinatra heard it on his car radio driving to Palm Springs, Calif., and his recording of it on a comeback album in 1966 hit the Top 10.

A nimble lyricist, Mr. Drake also wrote for television and for Broadway shows, including What Makes Sammy Run?, and his music endured in film scores, including those of Woody Allen's "Radio Days" and Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever."

His other songs include "Across the Wide Missouri," "A Room Without Windows," "Castle Rock" and "The Father of Girls." Among the other stars who recorded his lyrics were the Andrews Sisters, Tony Bennett, Duke Ellington, Barbra Streisand and Sarah Vaughan.

Source: The New York Times obituary 

ProductionsDate of Productions
Motown The Musical
[Musical, Drama, Original]
  • Additional lyrics by Ervin M. Drake
  • Additional music by Ervin M. Drake
Apr 14, 2013 - Jan 18, 2015
Sophisticated Ladies
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Featuring songs by Ervin M. Drake
  • Featuring songs with lyrics by Ervin M. Drake
Mar 01, 1981 - Jan 02, 1983
Her First Roman
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Music by Ervin M. Drake
  • Book by Ervin M. Drake
  • Lyrics by Ervin M. Drake
Oct 20, 1968 - Nov 02, 1968
What Makes Sammy Run?
[Musical, Original]
  • Music by Ervin M. Drake
  • Lyrics by Ervin M. Drake
Feb 27, 1964 - Jun 12, 1965
Heads or Tails
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Written by Ervin M. Drake
May 02, 1947 - May 31, 1947
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