The song that would form the bridge between rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll was written by a couple of 20-year-old white kids in Los Angeles who had an inborn affinity for black culture. Lyricist Jerry Leiber had the ultimate gateway job as a record store clerk in Fairfax. His partner, Mike Stoller, played piano in boogie-woogie bands that opened for jazz greats such as Chet Baker. At the Fairfax store Leiber met Lester Sill, who was the national sales director of the independent Modern label and who introduced the pair to Johnny Otis, a Greek-American drummer and bandleader who preferred the company of black people. He led the Johnny Otis Rhythm and Blues Caravan, which featured great artists such as Jackie Wilson and Hank Ballard, Little Esther Phillips, Little Willie John and Big Mama Thornton, who had a voice as big as her nickname implies. Upon hearing Big Mama rehearsing at Otis’s garage/studio, Leiber and Stoller wrote her a country blues with Louisiana overtones called “Hound Dog,” in which the dog in question was definitely a wayward lover who was looking for nothing more than a free meal and a place to crash.