Brooklyn-born Eleanor Louise Greenwich, a Brill Building songwriter and producer perhaps best known for collaborations with Phil Spector on Wall of Sound powerhouses like the Ronettes “Be My Baby,” Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” and the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron,” passed away today in New York City.
Her ability to convey both the rapture and heartbreak of young love in music proved transcendant; the unbridled joy in the Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” and abject sadness in the Ronettes’ “I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine” come through as clearly today as they did forty years ago.
Alongside writing partner and then-husband Jeff Barry, Greenwich penned a stream of ’60s hits, including early rebel-girl classic “Leader of the Pack,” “Chapel of Love,” and “Do Wah Diddy,” and produced much of Neil Diamond’s early work (she is often credited with helping him get his start), including “Cherry Cherry” and “Kentucky Woman.”
Leader of the Pack, a play based on Greenwich’s life and songs, ran on Broadway in 1985, and earned a Tony nod for Best Musical; she also sang backing vocals for Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and on albums as diverse as Blondie’s Eat to the Beat and Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual.
Though she never achieved the type of marquee fame that she brought to other artists, she was an accomplished singer and performer in her own right. Listen below to “Sunshine After the Rain,” from her aptly-titled 1968 album Ellie Greenwich Composes, Produces & Sings:
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