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Ellie Greenwich is best known as the writer of hit songs from the 1960's through the 1980's.
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Ellie Greenwich was born October 23, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. Following graduation from Hofstra University Greenwich joined the songwriting team called "Brill Building Writers", including Carole King, Neil Sedaka, and Phil Spector. She went on to write many hits, "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Be My Baby", and "Leader of the Pack". Greenwich died of a heart attack in 2009.
Songwriter. Born October 23, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. When Ellie Greenwich was 10 years old, her family moved out of New York City to Levittown, New York, a town that would serve as a model for the suburbs that sprang up throughout the United States after World War II. Greenwich's childhood was spent dancing and singing, even winning a local newspaper's poetry contest. Though she first learned to play music on the accordion, the budding songwriter quickly taught herself piano and began to compose by the age of 13.
In high school, Greenwich formed a band called The Jivettes with two of her friends and performed at local schools and hospitals. It was then that her mother arranged to have her meet with Archie Bleyer, president of Cadence Records. Bleyer knew raw talent when he saw it, but advised the young Greenwich to "keep writing, but finish school… the music business will always be there." Greenwich did release one single under the pseudonym Ellie Gaye, but it flopped. She returned to studying full-time, graduating from Hoftstra University with high honors and a bachelor's degree in English literature. While at school, she met fellow songwriter Jeff Barry at a party; Barry would later become her professional partner as well as her husband.
In 1962, the year she graduated from college, Greenwich spent exactly three and a half weeks as a high school English teacher before giving up teaching to pursue songwriting full time. She found a professional home in the offices of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were part of a group of musical greats called the "Brill Building Writers." The two signed Greenwich to their publishing company, Trio Music, officially launching her career as a hit maker.
Greenwich joined a team of songwriting superstars—Carole King and Gerry Golfin, Neil Sedaka, Phil Spector, Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Howie Greenfield—who would shape the sound of their generation.
But Greenwich and the other female members of this songwriting group were not entirely immune to the pressures of the music industry's old boys club. Traditionally, the only way for a woman to become famous was to sing; Greenwich and her friends Carole King and Cynthia Weil broke new ground by hitting it big as songwriters. "When I first came into the industry, in the middle of 1962, most of the women were background singers, or they were lyricists," Greenwich later remembered. "There were very few women who played piano, wrote songs, and could go into a studio, work those controls and produce a session. I wasn't your typical after-singer, as we called them, who could go in and read that piece of music on the stand, do 17 songs in three hours, boom-boom-boom.
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American society experienced a revolution in the late 1960s and early 70s, especially for African-Americans and women. Janis Joplin was the finest white blues singer of her generation; female singer-songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell shared their innermost thoughts and feelings; Aretha Franklin emerged as the Queen of Soul; and Bonnie Raitt established herself as both a strong vocalist and a brilliant guitarist. Through their music, the women of this era created the soundtrack of social progress.
Influential Female Musicians of the 1960s 17 people in this group
Famous Scorpios 503 people in this group
Famous Songwriters and Composers 417 people in this group