No, don’t worry – he’s still alive and well.
Over at Daily Kos [kos] we are informed that Lehrer has decided, pre-mortem, to drop his licensing on his various songs, recordings, etc.
I’ve also got to steal this tidbit from one of the commenters on the post at Kos:
At that time – 1953 – there were only two recording studios listed in the Boston Yellow Pages. I went to both of them. One was rude and condescending, and the other was friendly and encouraging, even though, of course, they had no idea what I was planning to record. So I went with the second one. For $15, I got an hour of studio time, including the use of one microphone and their piano. I would record a song and, if I liked the playback, we went on to the next one. If not, we’d just record it again over the first take. No splicing, no editing. By the end of the hour, I had the 12 songs in order, totaling 22 minutes. That does seem short, but most comedy songs are too long.
A friend drew the cover – cheap to print be because it involved only red and black with no overlap–and I wrote the liner notes for the jacket. A local printer assembled the jackets, and RCA’s custom-department pressed the records. I figured that with sales to my friends and relatives and local I audiences I could sell 400 copies and break even, so that’s what I ordered. I then ordered more, investing the profits, and eventually began making a net profit. Initially, I sold them around Harvard and in Cambridge record stores. Some newspapers and magazines, such as the “San Francisco Chronicle” and “The Saturday Review,” ran reviews and even gave the address where copies could be ordered. At first, they were mailed from my home – my address was printed on the early jackets – but eventually I got a post office box address. I wanted to find some stores in New York that would carry them. So I went to Liberty Music Shop, which specialized in records by people like Beatrice Lillie and Alec Templeton. They promised to put a note in every mail order from the New York City area saying that additional copies could be purchased at the Liberty Music Shop. And, sure enough, they started placing larger and larger orders. When I went back a few months later, there was a stack of my records on the counter. Then distributors got interested. I had an office in Boston by that time and a few people to handle the orders. There was never any advertising, except when an individual store took out an ad on their own. No personal appearances or record signings and almost no airplay. I like to say that is spread like herpes, not Ebola.
My dad got a copy of the first record from Richard Hofstadter (That Richard Hofstadter) who was a colleague and a neighbor one floor down on the 10th floor of our apartment building on Riverside Dr. I didn’t understand a lot of it until years later, but we used to sing, “So long mom, I’m off to drop a bomb” when we loaded into the car to go somewhere.
Years later I mentioned Lehrer to a co-worker who had worked at NSA, who said, “you realize he’s one of ours?” I knew he’s a mathematician but never realized he’s a cryptographer.