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Ellie Greenwich (October 23, 1940 – August 26, 2009)

American singer and songwriter; born in Brooklyn, New York, at 17, under the name Ellie Gaye, she recorded her first single, the self-written “Silly Isn’t It” b/w “Cha-Cha Charming” while attending Queens College, Greenwich. At this time she met up and coming songwriter Jeff Barry and soon the pair began writing songs together. Along with Jeff she was a co-writer of “Tell Laura I Love Her,” in 1960. Soon after they were signed to the famed Brill Building and began writing and producing for Phil Spector’s short-lived Philles label. In 1962 Ellie and Jeff married and decided to write songs exclusively with each other. Before the end of 1963, Barry-Greenwich had scored hits with songs such as “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You” (The Ronettes), “Chapel Of Love” (The Dixie Cups), “Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron” (The Crystals), “Not Too Young To Get Married” (Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans), and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love. Greenwich and Barry also recorded singles and an album under the name The Raindrops, with Ellie providing all the female vocals through overdubbing, and Jeff singing backgrounds in a bass voice. They wrote many hits at this time including “Hanky Panky”, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, “Cherry Cherry”, “Kentucky Woman”, “I Can Hear Music”, “River Deep, Mountain High” to mention a few.

In 1967, Ellie formed Pineywood Music with Mike Rashkow, they worked with The Fuzzy Bunnies, Dusty Springfield, The Definitive Rock Chorale, The Other Voices, and The Hardy Boys. She went on to collaborate with other writers such as Ellen Foley and Jeff Kent as well as providing backing vocals on many hits over her long career. As well as the above she also worked with Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Elton John, Cher, Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Bette Midler, Celine Dion, U2, Twisted Sister and Hanson and many others have recorded her songs. In 1984 she involved herself in a musical based on her life titled Leader of the Pack.

In 1991, Ellie and Jeff Barry were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Ellie’s songs have earned her over 25 gold and platinum records and sales in the tens of millions along with over 33 BMI Awards and numerous civic and Hofstra-Alumni citations.

On August 26, 2009, Greenwich died of a heart attack at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, New York City, where she had been admitted a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia.

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