Ellie Greenwich was not a celebrity on the level of Michael Jackson, but her death on Wednesday caused some reflection.
Greenwich was one of the great songwriters of the 1960s. Working with Jeff Barry, Phil Spector and others, she helped come up with such memorable songs as Do Wah Diddy, Be My Baby, Chapel of Love, Leader of the Pack and the fantastic holiday song Christmas Baby Please Come Home that Darlene Love recorded.
She was one of the many influential people in the music business who worked at the Brill Building in Manhattan. As Bruce Weber of the Times wrote today, it was the center of pop music in the early 1960s. She also discovered Neil Diamond, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your taste in music.
The music of those times, even if it was bubblegum, influenced a lot of artists that followed. When the Jackson Five did ABC, for instance, you can hear a lot of the same techniques. Springsteen did a song called Sherry Darling that was a throwback to the fraternity rock days. The early 60s stuff got overwhelmed by the British Invasion and the metal of the 1970s. But you can’t deny the listenability.
Bet you anything that if you grew up in the 70s, you listened to those songs when you dug through the records that your parents had.
(By the way, if you aren’t reading the obits in the Times, you really should. You can learn a lot every day.)