Ellie Greenwich, a songwriter who along with producer Phil Spector and co-writer Jeff Barry crafted some of the biggest and greatest singles of the 1960s, passed away at the age of 68. The AP reports that Greenwich died of a heart attack in New York’s Roosevelt Hospital, where she was battling pneumonia. Among the most famous songs that list Greenwich as a songwriter are the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You,” the Shangri-La’s “Leader of the Pack,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” Tina & Ike Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” and the Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.” Each of those landmark tracks were listed among Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Discovered by famed songwriters Leiber and Stoller, Greenwich’s other major hits include Manfred Mann’s “Doo Wah Diddy Diddy,” Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and Tommy James’ and the Shondells’ “Hanky Panky.” Greenwich and Barry also helped nurture the career of a fledgling singer-songwriter named Neil Diamond, and Greenwich and Barry produced and contributed background vocals to Diamond hits like “Kentucky Woman,” “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “Red, Red Wine” and “I’m a Believer.”
Greenwich, along with Barry, was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1991. A Broadway show dedicated to songs co-written by Greenwich and based on her life called Leader of the Pack debuted on Broadway, where it was nominated for a Best Musical Tony in 1985. Greenwich also recorded her own solo album, Ellie Greenwich Composes, Produces and Sings, in 1968, and often sang backup for artists like Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Dusty Springfield. The family asks that donations be made to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.