Abel Meeropol

Abel Meeropol (February 10, 1903 – October 30, 1986) was an American writer and song-writer, best known under his pseudonym Lewis Allan and as the adoptive father of the young sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Meeropol wrote the anti-lynching poem, „Strange Fruit„, which was first published in the Marxist publication, The New Masses which was subsequently set to music. The song’s best known recordings and performances were by Billie Holiday and Josh White. Billie Holiday claimed in Lady Sings the Blues, that she cowrote the music to the song with Meeropol and Sonny White, but in fact, Meeropol was the sole writer of both lyrics and melody to this haunting plea for civil rights.

Meeropol was the writer of countless poems and songs, including the Frank Sinatra and Josh White hit „The House I Live In“ and the libretto of Robert Kurka’s opera „The Good Soldier Schweik„. Meeropol chose to write as „Lewis Allan“ in memory of the names of his two stillborn children. Later, he and his wife Anne adopted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s two sons, Michael and Robert, after their parents‘ executions. Michael and Robert took the Meeropol surname.

According to Robert Meeropol, „Strange Fruit“, „The House I Live In“ and the Peggy Lee hit „Apples, Peaches and Cherries“ provided most of the royalty income of the family. The latter especially after it had been translated into French by Sacha Distel (French singer and sometime boyfriend of Brigitte Bardot). The resulting number one hit in France „Scoubidou“ still earns Michael and Robert Meeropol royalties; however, these only started coming in after Distel and Abel Meeropol settled a copyright infringement law suit over Distel’s plagiarism.

Meeropol died on October 30, 1986 at the Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

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