Composer and lyricist Ervin Drake had a remarkably varied career, including extensive work as a producer in television and significant activism on behalf of songwriters.
He was born Ervin Maurice Druckman in New York City on April 3, 1919. He attended Townsend Harris Hall, and then the City College of New York, where studied social sciences and graphic arts and received a BSS. In college, he edited a college magazine Mercury, and wrote varsity shows. Later, in 1963, he studied music formally at the Juilliard School of Music.
His first success came in 1942 when he wrote the English lyric to "Tico-Tico", a popular Brazilian instrumental by Zequinha Abreu. In 1944 he wrote words to Juan Tizol's instrumental "Perdido". He had a major hit in 1945 writing both words and music for "The Rickety Rickshaw Man", which sold over a million copies.
"I Believe", a religious song written in 1953 with Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stillman, was a huge hit, totalling some 20 million copies in its various recordings.
Other successful songs included "A Room Without Windows" (words and music), which was recorded by Steve Lawrence; "Across The Wide Missouri" (with Jimmy Shirl); "Castle Rock" (lyric, with Al Sears and Jimmy Shirl); "Quando Quando Quando" (English language lyric to an Italian song by Elio Cesari and Alberto Testa); and "Father Of The Girls", which was a success for Perry Como in 1968.
Other collaborators included Johnny Hodges, Ernesto Lecuona, Max Steiner, Paul Misraki, Robert Stolz, A. Donida, and Tony Renis.
One of his two best known songs was 1946's "Good Morning Heartache" (for which he wrote the…