Born Jerome Solon Felder in Brooklyn, New York of Jewish heritage, he became a fan of the blues after hearing Big Joe Turner on record. He had polio as a boy and got around on crutches. Due to post-polio syndrome, exacerbated by an accident, he eventually used a wheelchair. He died in 1991 from lung cancer. His brother is the famous New York attorney Raoul Felder. Using the stage name "Doc Pomus," he began performing as a teenager, becoming one of the most successful white blues singers of his time.