Ellie Greenwich – Highlights from the 4/9 Rock and Roll Revisited

Up Front: Tech Tuesday –

The next versions of Apple & Google’s browsers will make it easier for websites you visit to track you. Firefox will be the only ecosystem to allow to disable this secret spy option. Via @BoingBoing

According to NBC, 70% of us use social media. 80% say it’s a waste of time. Boy are we hypocrites!

How to Spot a Russian Bot: 5 ways to identify phony Twitter accounts and ditch them. Via @MotherJones

Top Tweets from The SOS Timeline:

1981 is our featured year this morning. Let’s start out with a chart topper from this month in that year. Steve Winwood’s third reinvention was at its peak. First came The Spencer Davis Group. Then Came Traffic. And then his career as a solo artist. He was headed to number one this week with “While You See a Chance”. (Video)

More 1981 Gold. The Climax Blues Band had been recording together since 1969, but they didn’t get their first hit until 1976’s “Couldn’t Get It Right”. This month, 5 years later they were on their way up with “I Love You”, their final Top 20 hit. It would peak at #12 in June, spending 27 weeks on the chart. Climax Blues Band would field 16 different lineups over the years. Vocalists Colin Cooper and Pete Haycock have since passed on. (Video)

One more from our featured year: Frankie & The Knockouts only had one Top 10 hit. It happened this month in 1981. “Sweetheart” spent 19 weeks on the charts and is ranked as the 50th biggest hit of the year. What is little known is that they wrote and originated two other tunes that became massive hits for other artists. Eric Carmen’s hit single “Hungry Eyes” as well as the Jennifer Warnes / Bill Medley classic, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”. Both songs were featured in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing. The latter would earn Frankie Previte an Academy Award for Best Original Song. (Video)

Today In History:

1950 Bob Hope began his long association with NBC-TV, hosting the network’s 90-minute musical special ‘Star-Spangled Review.’ His first appearance on television came in 1932 during a test transmission from an experimental CBS studio in New York. When Television became ubiquitous, Hope was given a contract for life with NBC.

1959 NASA introduced America’s first astronauts to the public. The seven men — military test pilots M. Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H.Glenn, Virgil I. Gus” Grissom. Grissom was the first to die, in the Apollo 1 fire on January 32, 1967. Senator John Glenn was the last of the original Mercury Seven to pass. But not before he flew on a Space Shuttle mission at the age of 77 in 1998. He died on December 8, 2016 at age 95.

1959 Architect Frank Lloyd Wright died of surgical complications at 91.

1964 Capitol Records reached an out-of-court settlement with Vee-Jay Records over Beatles records it claimed the latter did not have the right to release.

1965 Bruce Johnston officially joined the Beach Boys as the touring replacement for Brian Wilson.

1966 In Paris, actress Sophia Loren married producer Carlo Ponti for the second time. They’d had their first five-year marriage annulled in 1962 to save Ponti from bigamy charges in Italy.

1974 Bruce Springsteen met rock critic Jon Landau, who later managed the singer and successfully promoted him as ‘rock ‘n’ roll’s future.’

1986 It was announced that Patrick Duffy‘s killed-off character on the CBS-TV show ‘Dallas’ would be returning to the series. How did the writers bring him back? He just showed up in the shower. Suspension of belief is a prerequisite for prime time soaps.

2005 Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were married in a civil ceremony at Windsor’s Guildhall.

2009 The political sitcom ‘Parks and Recreation,’ starring Amy Poehler, Rasida Jones, Paul Schneider, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman and Aubrey Plaza, began a seven-season run on NBC.

2012 Facebook purchased the photo sharing application Instagram for $1 billion dollars.

Happy Birthday to:
1879 W.C. Fields (d. 1946)
1903 Ward Bond (d. 1960)
1926 Hugh Hefner (d. 2017)
1928 Tom Lehrer
1932 Carl Perkins (d. 1998)
1935 Avery Schreiber (d. 2002)
1942 Brandon De Wilde (d. 1972)
1945 Steve Gadd
1954 Dennis Quaid
1966 Cynthia Nixon

Today’s Quote Worth Re-Quoting: “I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with Twitter.” – Frank Lloyd Wright (If he were alive today. Originally he said “typewriter” instead of “Twitter”.)


Ellie Greenwich: the magic behind the music

Once upon a time, there was a place where poets and composers gathered to create true magic. If you stepped inside the Brill Building during the years that rock and roll was being born, you were likely to hear a half dozen pianos playing at once. If you were a time traveler from the future, you would instantly recognize artists who would later bloom into the most celebrated performers of the decade. Some, like Neil Sedaka, were already stars. Others, like Carole King, were still writing hit records for others. At it’s height, Brill was home to some of the greatest songwriting teams of the rock era: Hal David and Burt Bacharach, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

In the early years of the decade, you might see Neil Diamond, recently a pre-med student, struggling to find his muse. This was raw talent that needed polish and mentors to model the behaviors and fire the imagination. It would become a creative process that record company excecs would simply label “The Brill Building Sound”.

Among the Brill brilliance, few touched as many lives as did Ellie Greenwich.

Born Oct. 23, 1940, in Brooklyn, Eleanor Louise Greenwich first placed her fingers on a keyboard at age 11. The accordion quickly evolved into a piano, and by the time she enrolled at Queens College she had already recorded a single featuring two songs she wrote.”Silly Isn’t It” and “Cha-Cha Charming.” She was 17.

When she transferred to Hofstra University, she met Jeff Barry, a kindred spirit with a sense for mixing melody and lyrics that caught attention. They married in 1962 and were soon writing as a team.

The Brill Building was the center of the universe for aspiring songwriters and Ellie found her way there. As the story goes, she was waiting to meet another writer and started absently playing one of her compositions on the piano. Jerry Leiber was walking down the hall. What he heard sounded a lot like one of his other stars, Carole King, and when he discovered that the music came from Ellie’s brain, it wasn’t long before she was writing for Leiber and Stoller’s Trio Music.

Phil Spector was always on the lookout for fresh talent and he mined Greenwich and Barry’s collaboration, turning their compositions “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Chapel of Love” and “Be My Baby” into monster hit records.

Greenwich’s output during her brief prime was extraordinary and contributed to the success of dozens of artists. Examples include “Then He Kissed Me” (the Crystals), “Hanky Panky” (Tommy James & the Shondells), “Maybe I Know” (Lesley Gore), “River Deep, Mountain High” (Ike and Tina Turner), “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” (Manfred Mann) and “I Can Hear Music” (The Ronettes, Beach Boys).

Brian Wilson told the LA Times that Greenwich was “the greatest melody writer of all time.” But that was only one dimension. She was also one of the first high profile female record producers, crafting smash hits like, “Cherry Cherry,” “Solitary Man” and ” Kentucky Woman” for Niel Diamond.

Few outside of the business knew her name, but when Ellie Greenwich died at age 68 in August of 2009, those of us who appreciate the alchemy of talent, timing and luck that give birth to timeless recordings, pulled our dusty 45s out of the attic to listen again to Ellie’s enduring legacy.

Links: Ellie Greenwich Interviewed
Link: Nine By Ellie – A Scott Owens YouTube Playlist