By Cory Willey
GREAT BARRINGTON — To many, Doc Pomus was a songwriting legend whose work defined the sound of an era. For the few who actually knew him, he was that and much more.
“He was a brilliant person, I was lucky to know him and I’m happy I did know him,” singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw said Tuesday. “He really achieved greatness as a songwriter, but just to be one-on-one with him, it felt like you were in the presence of a really remarkable person. He is an unforgettable character.”
Doc Pomus’ work would go on to define a generation of pop music and more, with hits like “Lonely Avenue,” for Ray Charles, “Viva Las Vegas” for Elvis Presley — among many others — and “There Must be a Better Land Somewhere,” for B.B. King.
Crenshaw will be joined by Willie Nile, another of Pomus’ friends, and Christine Ohlman — lead singer of the Saturday Night Live Band also known as the Beehive Queen for her big, blonde hairdo — in a concert tribute to the songwriting legend this Saturday, Aug. 18 at the Guthrie Center as part of its Troubadour Series. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the show’s start slated for 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for members, $30 for non-members.
Pomus’ story is one of great struggle, one that includes astonishing accomplishments in the face of adversity. When Pomus was just a young boy growing up in Brooklyn — then known by his given name Jerome Felder — he was diagnosed with polio, which in the end often relegated him to crutches, sometimes a wheelchair.
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