News

Ellie Greenwich, composer of 'Chapel of Love,' dies

Steve Parks
Newsday (MCT)

NEW YORK — Ellie Greenwich, the pop songwriter best known for such "girl group" hits as "Leader of the Pack," died Wednesday at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, where she was being treated for pneumonia. The cause of death reportedly was a heart attack. She was 68.

Greenwich's string of Top 40 hits, along with her life story, formed the basis of the 1985 Broadway revue "Leader of the Pack," which snagged a Tony Award nomination for best musical and a Grammy nomination for best cast album. She also appeared in the show.

In addition to the title song, the Brooklyn native — she moved to Levittown, N.Y., at age 11 — wrote such hits of the early and mid-'60s as "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Chapel of Love," "And Then He Kissed Me" and "Be My Baby." She and her then-husband, Jeff Barry, wrote and recorded "Hanky Panky," which later became a hit for Tommy James and the Shondells. In 1991, she and Barry were inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

"She was the soundtrack I grew up to," says Richard Arfin, a founding board member of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, which will induct Greenwich in 2010. "It seemed like she knew what I was thinking."

During her career as songwriter and producer, Greenwich worked with such talents as Phil Spector, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Lesley Gore, Bobby Darin, Nona Hendryx and Cyndi Lauper. The girl groups who became chart-toppers with Greenwich's songs included The Ronettes, The Crystals and The Shangri-Las. Her songs were more recently recorded by Tina Turner, Elton John and U2.

As a teen, Greenwich spent much of her time hanging out at a Hicksville, N.Y., record store, where she got her first break: The store owner introduced her to record label scouts. After graduating from Hofstra University, she got her career start in 1962 while freelancing in the Brill Building offices of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote songs for Elvis Presley, among others, and whose career is celebrated in Broadway's "Smokey Joe's Cafe."

Besides its world tour, "Leader of the Pack" also played several Long Island theaters in the 1990s, including BroadHollow Theatre, then located in Bethpage.

Greenwich is survived by her sister, Laura Weiner, brother-in-law, a niece and a nephew. In lieu of flowers, her family asked donations be sent to VH1 Save the Music Foundation, vh1savethemusic.com.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.