Ellie Greenwich, Co-Writer of River Deep Mountain High & Leader of the Pack R.I.P.


There are few absolutes in pop. Too many opinions, differing tastes, fashions, styles and whims. There are people who don’t care for The Beatles, The Smiths, Dusty, Scott or Bowie. I can say that I just don’t ‘get’ Madonna, Prince or The Stone Roses, among many others. There are people who can’t stand Hey Jude, The Winner Takes it All, Hey ya or Merry Xmas Everybody and who think Bohemian Rhapsody is pompous drivel. (I may be among them – though have included two of my favourite songs in that list).

And that’s the way it should be. And that’s why we have Pop Junkie, Electric Roulette and all the other blog sites and Myspaces and magazines all saying that this is better than that, and this one’s even better.

But some things are just unarguably great. Like Aretha Franklin’s 60s output, Forever Changes, What’s Going On, Tapestry possibly Pet Sounds and, er, it’s a very short list. But to the list I propose to add Ike & Tina’s River Deep Mountain High. Agree?

And this morning news comes that the co-writer, Ellie Greenwich, has died at the age of 68. Collaborating with one-time husband Jeff Barry, George ‘Shadow’ Morton and producer Phil Spector, from her office in the Brill Building, she not only gave us River Deep (great version by Eric Burdon on youtube too) but Leader of the Pack, And Then He Kissed Me, Da Doo Ron Ron, Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Sunshine After the Rain and Be My Baby.

The Crystals, The Ronettes, The Shirelles, The Shangri-Las, Martha & The Vandellas, The Beach Boys, Elkie Brooks and a hundred others recorded or had mega hits with her songs.

Ellie also discovered Neil Diamond, who was one of the most hated acts of my childhood, without my realising that he had written a bunch of my favourite Monkees songs.

I have to hold my hands up here, for I always assumed that Spector & Ike Turner wrote River Deep. Sorry, Ellie. As those talented Swedes once said, thank you for the music. RIP.


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