Al Mortimer

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Rockabilly maniacs who put down their greasy combs long enough to read songwriting credits may wonder just who in the foggy blue-eyed morning Al Mortimer is. The name shows up connected to early Coral…
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Rockabilly maniacs who put down their greasy combs long enough to read songwriting credits may wonder just who in the foggy blue-eyed morning Al Mortimer is. The name shows up connected to early Coral sides cut by Johnny Burnette and his famous group the Rock 'n' Roll Trio. Songs including the revelatory "I Just Found Out," "Lonesome with Tears in My Eyes," "Oh Baby Babe," and "Rockabilly Boogie" -- in all, something of a sacred manifesto among roots rockers -- are credited to trio members Burnette and Paul Burlison and a third party, the mysterious Mortimer.

The name was used as a publishing pseudonym by none other than Henry Jerome, a dance band leader and producer who worked with Burnette during Jerome's reign as a Coral A&R man. Jerome also utilized the Mortimer name in connection with music he actually did help write, a catalog that includes the theme to Soupy Sales' notorious television series and "For the Love," a collaboration with Bobbi Martin. But in the case of the Burnette material, Jerome was apparently following the corrupt example of producer and disc jockey Alan Freed, cashing in on publishing royalties simply be inserting his name into column A.

Jerome, whose career as a bandleader is recounted in an entry under his real name, did actually assist the Burnette group in real ways other than helping it spend publishing earnings. He signed the trio to a management contract when it was still unknown, helped Johnny Burnette with the ups and downs of day to day survival by getting him a job as an elevator boy at the Hotel Edison, the same venue where the Jerome band held forth in the ballroom. He got the bandmembers rooms at the latter hotel and worked out contracts for the trio with both a large booking agency and the Coral branch of Decca. Jerome organized a corporation called Pajad, the name originating in the first letters of the Rock 'n' Roll Trio members, who were then put on salary.