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26th August
written by Matt The Cat
Ellie Greenwich

1940 – 2009

One of rock n’ roll’s greatest songwriters has passed on at the age of 68. Brooklyn born, Ellie Greenwich died in New York on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 of a heart attack, after being checking in to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital a few days earlier for pneumonia. She wrote some of rock’s most memorable songs with and without her former husband, Jeff Barry. Her song credits include “Leader Of The Pack”, a smash for the Shangri-Las, “Chapel Of Love” for the Dixie Cups and several mega hits for producer Phil Spector including “Be My Baby”, “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.

Ellie also produced some of Neil Diamond’s early recording such as “Cherry Cherry” and “Kentucky Woman” and is credited with helping Diamond move from being known only as a songwriter to being taken seriously as a vocalist.

For me, Ellie Greenwich was more than just a great songwriter, because I’m one of the people who LOVED her voice and phrasing. She recorded several great songs with Jeff Barry under the group name, The Raindrops like “The Kind Of Boy You Can’t Forget” and “What A Guy”. The flipside of their minor 1963 hit, “That Boy John” contained the original version of “Hanky Panky”, which would become the springboard hit for Tommy James & The Shondells a few years later. As a solo singer, Ellie touches my heart every time I hear her sweet voice croon, “You Don’t Know”, a true, underrated classic from 1965. It’s a song I play on the radio every chance I get, just so more people can hear it.

In later years, her songs have been featured in several Broadway shows and the musical “Leader Of The Pack” won a Tony Award for Best Musical in 1985.

Ellie Greenwich was one of those artists who didn’t make a large splash as a headliner, but without her songs and production in the background, rock n’ roll wouldn’t have been as sweet and we wouldn’t have so many great songs to sing along to.

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