He was the American Songwriter. That was his life. That's all George, who died Aug. 23 at 89, wanted to do. We were walking down Broadway many years ago, and I was humming something, and he said to me, "Why are you singing that? We didn't write that!" He was immersed in writing songs. There were three of us in a team--Hugo Peretti, myself and George. We'd get in a room and start batting around ideas, and by the time we finished, I couldn't tell you who wrote what.
Elvis' publishers asked us to write a song because they thought we had a feel for the type of scene they were doing in Blue Hawaii. Elvis' character had come back from Europe, and he had a music box, and he sang this song along with it. So we wrote "Can't Help Falling in Love" tailor-made to that tune. And Elvis liked it right away.
Bob Thiele, a producer at another label, asked him to write a song for Louis Armstrong, and one day George asked if I'd mind if he did that. I said, "No, that's what you do. You're a songwriter." So he went away and co-wrote a song called "What a Wonderful World."
George--who played several instruments and served as the president of the Songwriters Guild of America for nearly 20 years--was extremely talented. He did whatever was necessary to write songs. And the world is more wonderful for it.
Creatore's new off-Broadway play is An Error of the Moon