Elle Greenwich—who wrote such classics as "Be My Baby," "Leader of the Pack," and "Chapel of Love"—passed away today of a heart attack at 68. Some of the impact she made on pop culture, below.



Greenwich was one of the most successful songwriters in pop music history, a career she begin fresh out of college.


In 1962, she married Jeff Barry and the two formed a songwriting partnership that helped define the Brill Building sound.


A few short years after they were married, Greenwich and Barry divorced. She still had many hits ahead of her, but the experience affected her art and her outlook on the world.


It's easy to see why feminist critics would reprove of Greenwich's contributions to pop culture, and that fact didn't escape her.


Greenwich said: "I think, no matter how much of a feminist one claims to be…Lord knows, if you go by my songs, and the way my personal life has gone, you'd say, "Oh my, this lady was dreaming." It didn't exactly happen the way I was writing it. However, I would have liked it to have gone that way. I am a very firm believer in equality, women and men: if you can do the job, by all means go ahead and do it. But I still feel it would be nice if that romance can be there, birds could sing if you fell in love, and you could hear violins. I think that would be really terrific."


"To hear my stuff on the radio: 'Ooh, ooh, ooh, this is bliss, ultimate bliss.' I really came into the industry with the belief that if you work hard enough, I could have a taste of that. But then, when my marriage did fall apart … well, the disillusionment, you can imagine: the person who wrote 'Doo Wah Diddy' and 'Chapel Of Love' has gotta be devastated. I realized, those words, 'Till death do us part,' they don't really mean anything. Through the good times and bad times - what happened to that? We're having bad times - why should this be over?"


Greenwich managed to be successful in the male-dominated business side of the music industry in the 1960s, but that came with its pros and cons, particularly when producing girl groups. Greenwich said, "At first it was like, 'Well, who does she think she is, giving us orders here or telling us to do?' But on the other end, if you were very open to them, they saw you could be their friend, and then it became an asset to be a woman dealing with girl groups."


Throughout her career, Greenwich not only wrote dozens of songs, but also sang, produced, arranged them.


She also discovered Neil Diamond.


In the 1980s, her autobiographical Broadway musical Leader of the Pack opened, which was nominated for a Tony for Best Musical.


In 1991, Greenwich was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.





You can check out her full song catalog here.





Legendary '60s Songwriter Ellie Greenwich Dies [NPR]
'Be My Baby' songwriter dies at 68 [Variety]