LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Songwriter Ellie Greenwich, who helped shape pop music in the 1960s with such memorable tunes as “Chapel of Love” and “Da Doo Ron Ron,” died of a heart attack at a New York hospital on Wednesday, her manager said. She was 68.
The Brooklyn-born writer joined forces with producer Phil Spector and her then-husband Jeff Barry to compose elaborately crafted “Wall of Sound” tunes for the likes of the Crystals and the Ronettes, just as the Beatles were about to lead a shift away from outside songwriters.
Working out of New York’s famed Brill Building, a haven for singer/songwriters, she also shepherded a young performer named Neil Diamond, producing his early hits “Cherry, Cherry” and “Kentucky Woman.”
All told, Greenwich’s songs sold tens of millions of copies, and yielded 25 gold and platinum records, according to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, into which she was inducted in 1991.
During 1963 alone, a year after she graduated university with an English degree, the trio hit the top-10 list with such tunes as the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me,” and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” The following year, they hit No. 1 with the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love.”
Their 1966 collaboration for Ike and Tina Turner, “River Deep, Mountain High” was a relative sales disappointment in the United States, but reached No. 3 on the U.K. charts. Barry and Greenwich also ended their four-year marriage that year.
Greenwich helped create the play “Leader of the Pack,” a show about her own life in the music industry that had a run on Broadway in 1985.
In addition to Barry, she is survived by her sister, Laura Weiner and brother-in-law Bob Weiner, who was also her manager.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dean Goodman and Eric Walsh