CLAUDE DEMETRIUS

Born 3 August 1916, Bath, Maine
Died 1 May 1988, New York City, New York

The name of this Afro-American songwriter is usually written as Claude Demetrius. However, his daughter Pamela has assured me that the correct spelling is Demetruis.

Born in Maine, Demetruis moved to New York City in his early twenties. He started out in the music business in the 1940s, writing songs for and/or with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Witherspoon and B.B. King. In 1945 he wrote the musical comedy "Open the Door Richard", a short film (12 minutes), followed in 1948 by another screenplay, "The Dreamer" (30 minutes). During the 1940s Demetruis was closely associated with Louis Jordan. He wrote songs with Jordan, including material for the 1946 musical film "Beware" in which Jordan had the starring role. "Ain't That Just Like A Woman" (not in the film) is probably his best known composition from this period. Demetruis shared the writing credit with Fleecie Moore, whose name also appeared as the composer of Jordan's big hit "Caldonia". Louis Jordan told Arnold Shaw (about "Caldonia") : "Fleecie Moore's name is on it, but she didn't have anything to do with it. That was my wife at the time, and we put it in her name. She didn't know nothin' about no music at all." (Quote from Arnold Shaw, "Honkers and Shouters", page 71.) So we may safely assume that Louis Jordan was the real co-writer of "Ain't That Just Like A Woman" (a # 1 R&B hit in 1946).

Claude Demetruis made a reasonably good living as a songwriter, but in 1956 his income would change dramatically after he began writing for Gladys Music, Inc., a publishing firm newly formed by Jean and Julian Aberbach. This company owned the exclusive publishing rights to the music of Elvis Presley. Working for Gladys Music, Demetruis co-wrote the song "I Was the One", which was used as the B-side of Presley's first RCA single, the million-selling "Heartbreak Hotel". And both sides of a single received equal royalties ... In 1957 he wrote "Mean Woman Blues" for Presley's second movie, "Loving You" (released on LP and EP, but not as a single). This song was later recorded by many other artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison, whose version peaked at # 5 on the Billboard charts in 1963.

Demetruis topped off a very successful year when he co-wrote (with Aaron Schroeder) "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me", which appeared on "Elvis' Christmas Album", Presley's fourth LP, released in October 1957. The next year, Claude scored the biggest success of his career with "Hard Headed Woman", another # 1 for Elvis Presley, also included in the film "King Creole". Demetruis wrote it all by himself. Strangely, many websites allege that he also wrote "Dixieland Rock", with Fred Wise. He didn't. "Dixieland Rock" (also from the "King Creole" movie) was written by Rachel Frank and Aaron Schroeder. Demetruis did not write for Elvis after he was discharged from the army in 1960. Not much was heard from him after his successes with Presley. In March 1963 Rick Nelson cut his song "Everytime I Think About You" (for his first Decca album), which was originally recorded by Jimmy Witherspoon. He was not really a prolific songwriter. Fifty-eight of his compositions are registered with ASCAP (none with BMI). He died in 1988 in New York City, aged 71.

Acknowledgements : Wikipedia.

Dik, August 2012

 
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