Thursday, August 27, 2009
ELLIE GREENWICH 1940-2009
New York City has lost one of its greatest treasures yesterday, as songwriting legend Ellie Greenwich, the Brill Building rose who penned some of the best songs we ever heard including "Leader of the Pack", "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Be My Baby", died of a heart attack at the age of 68. Official AP newswire story to follow.
For those unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and visit Ellie's Web site and educate yourself on this extraordinary Levittown girl. -Ed.
Ellie Greenwich, 'Chapel of Love' co-writer, dies
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY (AP) – 21 hours ago
NEW YORK — Ellie Greenwich, who wrote classic pop songs such as "Chapel of Love," "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Be My Baby" with Phil Spector, has died, according to her niece. She was 68.
Greenwich died of a heart attack Wednesday at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, where she had been admitted a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia, according to her niece, Jessica Weiner.
Greenwich, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, was considered one of pop's most successful songwriters. She had a rich musical partnership with the legendary Spector, whose "wall of sound" technique changed rock music. With Spector, she wrote some of pop's most memorable songs, including "Da Doo Ron Ron." But Spector wasn't her only collaborator.
She also had key hits with her ex-husband Jeff Barry, including the dynamic song "Leader of the Pack" (years later, Broadway would stage a Tony-nominated musical with the same name based on her life).
"He was the first male I could actually harmonize with," she once said.
Greenwich was a native of Brooklyn. While she garnered her greatest success as a songwriter, Greenwich started out as a performer. She performed in talent shows as a child, and by the time she was a teen, she had her own group, called The Jivettes.
She went to college, where she met Barry, and shortly after graduation, began working for songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, where she got her break. She had her first chart success with the Jay and the Americans song "This Is It," which she wrote with Doc Pomus and Tony Powers.
She also had success with Barry as the duo The Raindrops with the songs "What a Guy" and "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget."
Greenwich also worked as an arranger and singer, a role that saw her working with artists including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
She is also credited with helping Neil Diamond get his start and was a co-producer of early Diamond hits "Cherry, Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman."
Among the more famous songs she wrote are Baby I Love You," "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Look of Love."
Greenwich is survived by a sister, brother-in-law, nephew and her niece.
The Ronettes performing "Be My Baby":
The Shangri-Las performing "Leader of the Pack" on the Steve Allen Show: