Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ellie Greenwich

What a day ... Ellie Greenwich also died today. She was 68. She wrote rock classics such as "Be My Baby" with Phil Specter and her then-husband Jeff Barry. With Jeff, she discovered Neil Diamond and produced his early great records. Ellie and Jeff performed as the Raindrops, and also wrote hits for groups ranging from the Crystals ("Da Doo Ron Ron") to Manfred Mann ("Do Wah Diddy Diddy"). They even wrote "Hanky Panky" for Tommy James and the Shondells.

Jeff and Ellie split. He went on to produce the first hits for the Monkees. She joined forces with Mike Rashkow (co-writer of "Mary in the Morning"). One Sunday afternoon in the Spring of 1967, Ellie and Mike were walking in Central Park in New York City, and heard some good harmony ....

That was Stu Nitekman, Ira Margolis, and me singing. We were a folk-rock pop group called "The New Outlook". Ellie and Mike changed our name to The Other Voices and got us a contract with Atlantic Records. Two singles ensued - "May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone" and "No Olympian Height". The B-side of both singles was written by Mikie Harris (then Mike's wife) and me - "Hung Up On Love".

Mike and Ellie also put together a studio group, The Definitive Rock Chorale, which recorded one of my songs, "Picture Postcard World". You can hear it below. Listen for Ellie singing in the background.

Ellie went on to have hit Broadway play in 1985 - "Leader of the Pack".

I went on to become a professor and a writer of books instead of music and lyrics. You can hear more of my music over here. I also have a MySpace page for The New Outlook.

I spoke to Ellie maybe once every decade on the phone. She was my first brush with flickering fame. I expect her joyous music to be around for a long time.

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