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Ellie Greenwich is best known as the writer of hit songs from the 1960s through the 1980s.
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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. It was a whole different thing. I'd go in, think of the background parts, and put them down myself. I learned about overdubbing. Back then they'd call me the Demo Queen. Many different publishers would hire me to record demos of other writers' songs." Greenwich eventually specialized in writing hit songs for girl groups,
penning some of the most famous female-driven hits of the decade.
Greenwich and Barry collaborated with legendary producer Phil Spector on hits such as "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "And Then He Kissed Me" for The Crystals and "Be My Baby" for The Ronettes. When asked which of her countless hits were most memorable, Greenwich replied, "I would say dear to my heart where it affected me in a very incredible way was definitely '(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry' [by Darlene Love]. I was hysterical when it first came out. 'Be My Baby' was an interesting story because Phil had recorded a couple of things that we had written for the Ronettes."
"And I preferred 'Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love' to 'Be My Baby.' So when Phil went back to California… and said 'Be My Baby' was gonna be it, I… was so disappointed. Is that hysterical? And you know what's happened to me… back then I was just doing what I was doing. I was young, it was exciting, and I cried when I heard my songs on the radio," she said. "But I don't think it was until many years later—when I see how the songs have lived on—that I really understood. When I hear 'Be My Baby' now—when I hear that "Boom! Ch-chik! Boom!" intro—I get goose bumps. I really do."
In 1964, Leiber and Stoller left the Brill Building to form Red Bird Records, taking Greenwich and Barry along as fellow songwriters. The combined talent and drive of Leiber, Stoller, Greenwich, Barry and producer George "Shadow" Morton virtually defined the dominant girl-group sound of the era. In the mid-1960s, Greenwich wrote much of her greatest material, records such as "River Deep, Mountain High" for Tina Turner and a remake of "Chapel of Love" for The Dixie Cups (originally performed by the Ronettes). It was also during this time that Greenwich penned her most famous song, "Leader of the Pack," which she and Barry co-wrote for The Shangri-Las. To this day, it remains her most enduring hit.
In 1965, Barry and Greenwich recorded their own song, "Our Love Can Still Be Saved," which won decent airplay. But the song's title said it all: Their marriage was on the rocks and by the end of the year, the couple divorced. They continued to work together for several years after the breakup, but by the end of the decade their songwriting partnership had dissolved like their marriage had done earlier. Greenwich struck out on her own.
The late 1960s and '70s were a time of creative and artistic expansion for Greenwich, as she furthered her career as a producer at a time when female producers were scarce.
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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 554 people in this group
Famous Songwriters and Composers 463 people in this group