People who made ‘People’

Stoller and Butler tuner preems at Studio 54

West 54th Street means a lot to songwriters Mike Stoller and Artie Butler. It’s where their first tuner, “The People in the Picture,” opened Thursday, at Studio 54. It’s also where Stoller and his famed songwriting partner Jerry Lieber “discovered” Butler 51 years ago.

“It was across the street at Bell Sound Studios,” Butler recalled. “I was a button pusher, and they needed a piano player. And I said, ‘I can do that!’ ” And he did, for a Jay and the Americans session.

“People” is that rare legit animal: a tuner that had its world preem on Broadway. As Stoller said, “We had our out-of-town in town.”

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