Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ellie Greenwich, 1940-2009. R.I.P.

Songwriter and record producer Ellie Greenwich died today in New York City of a heart attack. A few days ago she had been hospitalized with pneumonia. She was 69.

Greenwich and her former husband, Jeff Barry, were a songwriting powerhouse from 1962 to 1966. They co-wrote songs like "Be My Baby", "Baby I Love You", "Then He Kissed Me", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Hanky Panky", "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy". Greenwich and Barry also collaborated with Phil Spector on songs like "Chapel of Love" and "River Deep Mountain High."

They wrote all these songs in New York City's Brill Building. Greenwich and Barry weren't the only husband and wife team of songwriters. The Brill Building could also brag about Carole King and Gerry Goffin as well as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Greenwich was also instrumental in discovering Neil Diamond. She and Barry would produce several of his early hits like "Cherry Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman."

In 1985, a musical based on Greenwich's life called Leader of the Pack (yes, she and Barry produced that song too) made it to Broadway.

Although "Baby I Love You" and "Be My Baby" were made famous by The Ronettes I'm partial to the cover versions recorded by Andy Kim in 1969 which were produced by Barry. Here's a clip of Kim lip synching "Be My Baby." The female back up vocalist on this record (although not in the video) is none other than Ellie Greenwich.

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