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Luigi Creatore, 93; was songwriter, producer

NEW YORK — Luigi Creatore, a songwriter and record producer who teamed with his cousin Hugo Peretti to create hits for Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Perry Como, and others, died Dec. 13 in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 93.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, said his wife, Claire Weiss Creatore.

The son of a renowned Italian immigrant bandmaster, Mr. Creatore began his career by writing advertising jingles and graduated to books, plays, and, most notably, songs. His regular partner — they both wrote music as well as lyrics — was Peretti, who died in 1986; they were occasionally joined by George David Weiss, who died in 2010.


Peretti and Mr. Creatore, known professionally as Hugo & Luigi, had their greatest success in the 1960s at RCA Victor Records, where they were among the first producers to have their names prominently displayed on album jackets, complete with their own logo.

The Hugo & Luigi brand came to be recognized as a symbol of pleasant, hummable pop music by the likes of Como, for whom they produced several albums, and Little Peggy March, for whom they produced the No. 1 single “I Will Follow Him.”

Their most noteworthy work at RCA, however, was not with a middle-of-the-road pop artist but with one of the great rhythm-and-blues singers of the era, Sam Cooke, who had success with Creatore-Peretti productions including “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” and “Wonderful World.”

Before joining RCA, when the two were part-owners of Roulette, they produced a number of hits on the label for singer Jimmie Rodgers, including “Honeycomb,” which reached No. 1 in 1957.

As composers, they wrote two songs that were hits for Elvis Presley in 1961: “Wild in the Country,” from the movie of the same name, and “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” from the movie “Blue Hawaii,” which they wrote with Weiss.


That same year, Mr. Creatore, Peretti, and Weiss collaborated on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” an adaptation of the Zulu song “Wimoweh” that was a No. 1 hit for the Tokens. The song was also featured in the hit movie “The Lion King” and became the focus of controversy and litigation when the estate of Solomon Linda, the composer of “Wimoweh,” sued for royalties that his family said he had been denied. The estate eventually received a sizable settlement.

After leaving RCA Victor in 1964, Mr. Creatore and Peretti worked with, among other artists, Van McCoy, whose “The Hustle” was a No. 1 single in 1975.

Luigi Federico Creatore was born in Manhattan on Dec. 21, 1921. His father, Giuseppe, was a Naples-born bandleader whose fame in the United States rivaled John Philip Sousa’s at the time. His mother was the former Rosina De Marinis.

He attended Textile High School and served as a pharmacist’s mate in the Navy. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. That experience was the basis for “The World Is Mine,” his book about a veteran with amnesia. A reviewer for The New York Times described it in 1947 as a “well-written, well-planned first novel.”

In addition to his wife, Claire, Mr. Creatore, who lived in Boca Raton, leaves a son, Victor, from his first marriage.