Doc Pomus, who wrote songs for Elvis Presley, Andy Williams and Ray Charles, based one of his biggest hits on a moment from his own life.
Doc Pomus urged his beautiful bride, Willi Burke, to dance at their 1957 wedding. He watched as she whirled around the floor in the arms of relatives and friends. But she and Doc never danced. He was on crutches, having lost the use of his legs after a childhood bout with polio.
Doc (born Jerome Felder) grew up in Brooklyn, New York, loving music, especially the blues. As a young man, he made a living singing in Black blues clubs. After recording dozens of songs, he thought he finally had a hit. But the record company didn’t release the song after learning he was a disabled Jewish guy.
Doc shifted to song writing, penning such hits as “Viva Las Vegas,” “This Magic Moment” and “A Teenager in Love.”
Some three years after his marriage, Doc was scribbling lyrics on the back of unused wedding invitations, trying to match words to a soaring Latin melody composed by his partner Mort Shuman. Doc remembered how it felt to watch his bride dance with someone else. “But don’t forget who’s taking you home and in whose arms you’re going to be,” he wrote. “So, darling, save the last dance for me.”
The Drifters recorded “Save the Last Dance for Me” in 1960, and it spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris would later cover the song born of Doc’s
Canadian Anne Murray sings it beautifully on stage…”Save the Last Dance”.
The songwriter, Doc Pomus, was crippled but his wife or girlfriend loved to go out and dance – so he would go with her to the clubs so she could dance.
She would dance with other men while he sat on the sidelines and watched.
But when it was time for the last dance of the evening, he would go out in his wheelchair and dance the last dance with her. Hence, the song.
True story and very touching!