Aaron Schroeder, a songwriter, independent music publisher and record producer who co-wrote 17 songs for Elvis Presley, including “It’s Now or Never,” has died. He was 83.
Schroeder, who had a rare form of dementia for about 18 years, died of heart failure Wednesday night at the Lillian Booth Actors Fund Home in Englewood, N.J., said his wife, Abby.
FOR THE RECORD:
Schroeder obituary: The obituary of songwriter Aaron Schroeder in the California section Dec. 6 said he co-wrote Barry White's "Love Theme." Schroeder wrote the words for the lyric version of "Love's Theme," which is titled "Play Our Love's Theme," but he did not co-write White's "Love's Theme," an instrumental hit. —
In a songwriting career that began in the late 1940s, Schroeder wrote more than 2,000 songs and was the composer, lyricist and/or producer on more than 1,500 recordings.
He co-wrote five No. 1 songs for Presley, including "Stuck on You," "Good Luck Charm," "A Big Hunk o' Love," "I Got Stung" and "It's Now or Never," the last of which ranked No. 92 in Billboard magazine's 2008 list of the "Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs."
Schroeder also co-wrote songs such as the Perry Como hit "Mandolins in the Moonlight," Frank Sinatra's "French Foreign Legion," Carl Perkins' "Glad All Over," Bobby Vee's "Rubber Ball," Barry White's "Love Theme," Johnny Duncan's "She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed Anytime" and the Staple Singers' "Hammer and Nails."
Among the other artists who recorded Schroeder's songs are Tony Bennett, Roy Orbison, Pat Boone, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Dionne Warwick.
"He was known first as a lyricist, but he collaborated on melody much of the time with many of the collaborators," his wife said.
In 1960, Schroeder went into the music publishing business. Around the same time, he launched the Manhattan-based Musicor Records. Musicor had its biggest success with Gene Pitney, for whom Schroeder produced his early hits, including "Only Love Can Break a Heart" and "Town Without Pity." He also managed and wrote songs with Pitney.
Schroeder sold Musicor Records around 1965. "He wanted to concentrate more on the writers that were coming to us like Barry White, Randy Newman and Jimi Hendrix," said Abby Schroeder, who worked with her husband.
"He was dedicated to helping young writers succeed," she said. "We'd be their publishers and support them. Aaron groomed them and spent a lot of time teaching them the art and the craft of writing."
Schroeder also was the international music representative for Hanna-Barbera Productions and provided music, singers and songs for "The Banana Splits" and "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!"
Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 7, 1926, Schroeder graduated from what is now Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City.
Over the years, Schroeder amassed one of the world's largest collections of antique American and foreign cast iron and tin mechanical and still banks and toys, which have been exhibited in museums.
In addition to his wife of 42 years, he is survived by his daughter, Rachel.
A funeral service will be held at 11:45 a.m. Monday at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan.
The family requests that any contributions in his memory be made to the Actors Fund, the Berkshire Theatre Festival or Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & Performing Arts.