August 26, 2009

Songwriter Ellie Greenwich dead at 68

Rock 'n' roll songwriter and girl-group producer Ellie Greenwich died of a heart attack in New York Wednesday. She was 68.

Greenwich's songs, including Be My Baby, Leader of the Pack and Chapel of Love, have cumulatively sold in the tens of millions and earned her 25 gold and platinum records, her representatives noted in a news release.

She wrote songs with her former husband, Jeff Barry, Doc Pomus and Tony Powers and enjoyed her first chart success with This is It by Jay and the Americans and He's Got the Power by the Exciters. She and Barry formed The Raindrops and had hits with What a Guy and The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget.

She later collaborated with iconic producer Phil Spector on classics like Be My Baby, Da Doo Ron Ron, And Then He Kissed Me, Chapel of Love and River Deep, Mountain High.

Greenwich and Barry also continued their successes with such No. 1 songs as Hanky Panky, and Greenwich co-wrote Leader of The Pack with Shadow Morton.

She also worked as one of New York's top demo singers and session vocal arrangers/singers and collaborated with artists like Dusty Springfield, Lesley Gore, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra.

She was inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.

Very few people have as many classic songs as Ellie Greenwich did, NPR quoted Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine as saying. She was incredible.

Greenwich is survived by her sister, Laura Weiner; brother-in-law, Robert Weiner; nephew, Richard; and niece, Jessica, the writer's representatives said.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.