Otis Blackwell, who wrote dozens of hit songs, including "Don't Be Cruel" for Elvis Presley, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 70. Blackwell wrote more than 1,000 songs that were recorded by performers such as Ray Charles, Billy Joel, The Who, James Taylor, Otis Redding, Peggy Lee and Jerry Lee Lewis. Some of Blackwell's other credits include "Great Balls of Fire" and "Breathless," both recorded by Lewis; "Handy Man" by Taylor; "Fever" by Lee; "Daddy Rolling Stone" by The Who; and "Return to Sender" and "All Shook Up," each recorded by Presley. Blackwell was credited with writing songs that sold more than 185 million copies.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Blackwell grew up wanting to be a singer. While recording songs for a small company in New York City, he was asked to write songs as well.
Blackwell often sang the songs himself before they were recorded, and some music historians believe his style influenced Presley's.
Source: Reuters / Updated: May 7, 2002