Monday, August 31, 2009

Ellie Greenwich: 1940-2009

Yesterday morning while watching This Week with George Stephanopoulos, I learned that singer/songwriter Ellie Greenwich passed away on August 26th at the age of 68.  She had been admitted to a New York hospital a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia and suffered a fatal heart attack.

If you don't recognize Ellie's name or face, I have no doubt that you know her music because she was one of the most prolific songwriters of the 1960s.  Below is a short list of tunes that she penned with her then husband Jeff Barry:

Be My Baby and Baby, I Love You by The Ronettes
Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals
Hanky Panky by Tommy James & the Shondells
Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann
Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las
Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups
River Deep, Mountain High by Ike & Tina Turner (the above two written with Phil Spector)

In addition to her songwriting,  Greenwich also stepped behind the mike, recording under her own name, with Jeff Barry as the duo The Raindrops (a one-hit wonder with the 1963 tune The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget and the performers of the original version of Hanky Panky), and as a backup singer for such artists as Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and Dusty Springfield.  She also was responsible for discovering a young singer/songwriter named Neil Diamond (producing and singing backup vocals on some of his early hits).

Ellie was also the subject and co-star of the long-running musical revue Leader of the Pack, which premiered in 1984 and later was nominated for a Tony (for Best Musical and a Grammy (for Best Cast Show Album).  In 1991, she was inducted (along with former husband and partner Jeff Barry) into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

Below is Ellie's recording of a song that she wrote which was made famous by The Beach Boys and The Ronettes, I Can Hear Music.


Candy Minx said...

Thanks Malcolm, I didn't know she wrote all those songs.

mister anchovy said...

I didn't know that either. She wrote some great tunes!

Penny said...

Awww...Ellie. I saw a great documentary featuring her called :Girl Groups of the 60's.
It has a lot of information and great songs featured. She was a HUGE contribution to the music world.

Malcolm said...

Candy: The news of Ellie's death caught me totally off guard. I was watching "This Week..." as I was on my computer. I didn't realize that it was the "In Memoriam" segment, so I was puzzled why they were playing a clip of The Dixie Cups performing "Chapel of Love". They then showed a photo of Ellie. I had never heard her version of "I Can Hear Music" until this week, but I think it's top-notch.

Mister Anchovy: Some of the songs I had forgotten that she wrote (such as Hanky Panky) and some I didn't even realize were by her (River Deep, Mountain High).

Penny: I think I saw that documentary or one similar to it. I'm glad that Ellie got her due in the latter part of her career via the musical revue "Leader of the Pack". Speaking of girl groups, here is the link to a site about the genre:

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