Ellie Greenwich, Classic 1960s Hitmaker, Dead At 68

Greenwich co-wrote songs like 'Chapel of Love,' 'Be My Baby,' 'Leader of the Pack' and many others.

[artist id="8524"]Ellie Greenwich[/artist], a producer/songwriter from New York's famed "Brill Building" scene of the 1960s, who co-wrote classics like "Chapel of Love," "Be My Baby," "Leader of the Pack," "Baby I Love You," "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," "Look of Love" and many others, died Wednesday (August 26), her niece told The Associated Press. She was 68.

Greenwich died of a heart attack at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, where she had been admitted a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia, her niece told the AP.

Greenwich, a Songwriters Hall of Fame member, co-wrote some of the classic pop songs of the 1960s, many of them produced by Phil Spector, a legendary but erratic hitmaker who is currently in prison for murder. In collaboration with him and ex-husband Jeff Barry, she wrote some of the decade's most popular songs, including "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "River Deep, Mountain High."

Her career was so memorable that a Tony-nominated musical called "Leader of the Pack" (taken from the Shangri-Las song of the same name she wrote with Barry) based on her life was staged on Broadway.

Born in New York and raised on Long Island, Greenwich performed in talent shows as a youngster and, as a teenager, had formed a group called the Jivettes.

Ellie Greenwich Rememberd

She met Barry in college, and after graduating worked for legendary rock songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (who wrote many songs for Elvis Presley). Her first hit was the Jay and the Americans song "This Is It," co-written with Doc Pomus and Tony Powers. She also worked as an arranger and singer with many artists, including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

She is also credited with helping to launch Neil Diamond's career and co-produced his early hits "Cherry, Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman"; her backing vocals can be heard prominently on many of his songs from the era.

"Ellie Greenwich was one of the most important people in my career. She discovered me as a down-and-out songwriter and with her then-husband Jeff Barry co-produced all my early hits on Bang records," Diamond said in a statement. "She has remained a great friend and mentor over the years and will be missed greatly."

Greenwich continued working after the 1960s, contributing prominently to songs by Blondie and Cyndi Lauper, but she did not enjoy a similar level of success.

Greenwich is survived by a sister, brother-in-law, nephew and her niece.