Originally setting out to be a recording star, Jeff Barry became one of the most respected pop songwriters within the Brill Building complex of the '60s, not an easy accomplishment considering the fact that Barry's in-house competition included Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Neil Sedaka.
A struggling New Yorker, Barry's fortunes changed considerably when he met his future wife and songwriting partner, Ellie Greenwich, at a party in 1962. Within a short time of teaming up, the duo had an appointment at Don Kirshner's songwriting factory, New York City's famous Brill Building. Ushered into the business by Leiber & Stoller, Barry and Greenwich began writing and arranging for the groups signed to Phil Spector's Philles label. The smash hits "Da Do Ron Ron" and "Be My Baby" resulted from the time spent with Spector and, by 1964, Barry and Greenwich were an integral part of the staff at Leiber and Stoller's newly formed Redbird Records. Largely regarded by pop aficionados as the mecca for the "girl group" sound, the staff at Redbird, which also included producer George "Shadow" Morton, produced tightly crafted, musically sophisticated songs that were the pop equivalent of the kind of rock operas the Who would later write. The Barry/Greenwich-penned "Leader of the Pack," with its revving motorcycle engine and girlish screams of terror, was a fine example of the songs that the label was crafting at the time. Barry and Greenwich continued to write hit records throughout the '60s, such as the seminal "River Deep, Mountain High" and the Beach Boys' 1969 hit "I Can Hear Music," their songs changing with the times, but still retaining the essence of their earlier Brill Building days. After the marriage broke up, their creative partnership did as well and while Greenwich went on to become a session vocalist, Barry became a staff producer at A&M Records. Throughout the '70s, he worked with Neil Diamond, the Monkees, and Van Morrison, among others, but was unable to achieve the same level of success as he had as a songwriter. ~ Steve Kurutz, Rovi