Home / Music & Arts / Ervin Drake, legendary songwriter, dead at 95

Ervin Drake, legendary songwriter, dead at 95

Songwriter Ervin Drake passed away at age 95 Thursday.Bobby Bank/WireImage Songwriter Ervin Drake passed away at age 95 Thursday.

Ervin Drake, the songwriter who composed “It Was a Very Good Year” and then on to have 50 more very good years, died Jan. 15 at his home in Great Neck, NY.

He was 95 and had been suffering from bladder cancer.

He was one of the last survivors from the golden age of Jewish-American songwriters who composed much of what’s come to be known as the American Songbook.

Drake wasn’t in a league with Irving Berlin or the Gershwins, but his extensive output included several memorable songs, including “It Was a Very Good Year,” “Good Morning Heartache” and “I Believe.”

He wrote “It Was a Very Good Year” for a 1961 Kingston Trio album. It became a signature for Frank Sinatra after Sinatra recorded it for his 1965 “September of My Years” album.

It was an odd song to become a pop hit, with lyrics about “blue-blooded girls of independent means.”

Drake was very comfortable with unusual lyrics though, since he began his writing career around World War II with songs like “The Rickety Rickshaw Man.”

He worked in many areas of songwriting over the years.

He wrote English lyrics to overseas hits, scoring with “Tico Tico” for the Andrews Sisters and “And That’s That” for Xavier Cugat.

He wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway edition of “What Makes Sammy Run?”

He collaborated with several other writers on “I Believe,” which was written for Jane Froman’s television show in the 1950s and became a major hit for Frankie Laine.

It has also become a favorite among vocal group fans, thanks largely to a version by Larry Chance and the Earls.

“Good Morning Heartache” became a signature song for Billie Holiday.

Born Ervin Maurice Druckman in New York on April 3, 1919, Drake came from a musical family.

He started writing songs for his mother as a child – putting him in competition with his two brothers, both of whom also composed songs. His brother Milton was a cowriter of the novelty hit “Mairzy Doats.”

He graduated from City College in 1940 and broke away from his father’s furniture business when he started selling songs.

His first wife, Ada, died in 1975. He then married Edith Bein, his childhood sweetheart, to whom he remained married until his death.

He also remained active as a songwriter and mentor until his death, working with younger writers and establishing a reputation as a well-loved storyteller and songwriting historian.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two children from his first marriage.

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Music & Arts – NY Daily News

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