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Jeff Barry (born Joel Adelberg, April 3, 1938, Brooklyn, New York) is an American pop music songwriter, singer, and record producer.

Contents

Early career

His parents divorced when he was seven, and his mother moved him and his sister to Plainfield, New Jersey, where they resided for several years before returning to New York.

After graduating from Erasmus Hall High School, he was in the Army and then returned to New York where he attended City College, leaning toward a degree in engineering. His main aspiration was to become a singer, and he cut his college career short before in 1958 he was signed to RCA Records, courtesy of the music publisher, Arnold Shaw. Around this time, wanting a showbusiness name, he named himself — borrowing the new first name Jeff from the actor, Jeff Chandler, and surname, Barry, from friends of his own family.)

Barry recorded several singles for the label, including the self-penned "It's Called Rock and Roll" backed with "Hip Couple," released in 1959. In 1960, Barry (the songwriter) landed on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart with "Teenage Sonata," recorded by Sam Cooke, and later the same year Barry enjoyed his first Billboard Hot 100 hit when Ray Peterson recorded "Tell Laura I Love Her" (co-written with Ben Raleigh) and appeared in the U.S. Top Ten. British singer Ricky Valance took the song to #1 in the UK Singles Chart later that same year.

By 1963, Barry and Ellie Greenwich had joined forces, as husband and wife and as songwriting partners. They met in late 1959, although it might not have been for the first time - her maternal uncle was married to his cousin, so they may actually have known each other since childhood. However, their first formal meeting as adults was at a Thanksgiving dinner at their mutual relatives' home (a few sources erroneously show the year as 1960.) Fueled by their shared interest in music, a friendship developed between the two and they became involved romantically some months later, after Barry's first marriage was annulled.

In the summer of 1960, Barry and Greenwich recorded Barry's, "Red Corvette," which was released as a single under the name Ellie Gee and The Jets. Greenwich stayed in college (she would graduate in 1962) and commuted to the Brill Building whenever time permitted. Songwriter-producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller offered her a job as a staff writer for Trio Music, their publishing company, after Leiber overheard her singing in an office at the Brill. Barry was subsequently signed to Trio as well. Barry and Greenwich each continued to write songs with other partners. In addition, both became in-demand demo singers. Some of Barry's demos ended up in the hands of Elvis Presley and other major artists of the day.

Chart success

Barry and Greenwich married in October 1962 and shortly afterward made the decision to write songs exclusively with each other. Greenwich introduced Barry to her latest partner, songwriter-producer Phil Spector, and the threesome went on to define the "Girl Group" sound of the early 1960s. The Barry-Greenwich-Spector team composed several of Spector's biggest hits including The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," and The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You" as well as the holiday perennial "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love.

In early 1963, Barry and Greenwich had chart success with such songs as "What A Guy" and "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget," recorded by the couple under the name The Raindrops (Greenwich provided all the female vocals through the process of overdubbing, while Barry sang backgrounds in a bass voice). In 1964 Leiber and Stoller brought Barry and Greenwich onboard at their new label, Red Bird Records, as songwriter-producers. Out of Red Bird's first twenty releases, fifteen hit the charts; all were written and/or produced by the Barry-Greenwich team, including "Chapel of Love," "People Say," and "Iko Iko" by The Dixie Cups and "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)" and "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las. In 1964 alone, the duo were responsible for writing 17 singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Barry and Greenwich also released solo singles under their own names for Red Bird in 1965, Greenwich the haunting "You Don't Know," and Barry the uptempo "I'll Still Love You."

Unbeknownst to many people, however, Barry and Greenwich's marriage had begun to unravel. The couple divorced in late 1965 but would continue to work together for much of the following year, and sporadically after that until the late 1960s. Their professional and personal partnerships were the subject of the 1985 Broadway jukebox musical Leader of the Pack.

In early 1966 Barry and Greenwich discovered a talented young singer-songwriter named Neil Diamond and brought him to the attention of Bert Berns, one of the principals of Bang Records. Diamond was signed to the label, and Barry and Greenwich produced Neil's first hits including "Solitary Man," "Cherry, Cherry," "Kentucky Woman," and "Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon." Both Barry and Greenwich can be heard singing backgrounds on many of Diamond's Bang recordings.

During this time period, with Phil Spector, the pair also wrote the classics "River Deep, Mountain High" (Tina Turner) and "I Can Hear Music" (The Ronettes, The Beach Boys). Penning songs (especially love songs) together was awkward at best given the circumstances, and Barry and Greenwich's writing partnership soon came to its end. Among Barry's new collaborators were Marty Sanders, a member of the pop group Jay and the Americans, and Bang label CEO Bert Berns, with whom he wrote "Am I Groovin' You?," a top R & B single for Freddie Scott in 1967.

In late 1966, Barry was asked by music supervisor Don Kirshner to produce some tracks for the new Monkees music group. Barry brought with him a few Neil Diamond-penned tunes for the group to record. One among them, "I'm a Believer," under Barry's production baton, would sail up the U.S. charts to the #1 spot and become one of the biggest-selling records of all time. The group also had a hit with another Diamond-composed, Barry-produced single, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You." After Kirshner's dismissal from Colgems Records, however, Barry would not produce for the Monkees again until 1970's Changes, which in fact contained many songs co-written by Barry.

Having been removed from the Monkees project, Don Kirshner became music supervisor for a new Saturday morning cartoon, The Archie Show, in 1968. Kirshner brought Barry in as producer and main songwriter, and during the next three years, he composed dozens of songs for the fictional Archies group, including the show's theme song, "Everything's Archie," and the Dances of the Week (a staple of the show's first season). Lead vocals for The Archies were provided by former Detergents member and session singer Ron Dante. Barry had also recently founded his own label, Steed Records, and one of his most successful recording artists was Montreal native Andy Kim, who had hits with remakes of Barry's Ronettes tunes "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You." Barry and Kim collaborated on several tunes for The Archies to record, including their best-known single, "Sugar, Sugar," which hit the #1 spot, became the RIAA Record of the Year for 1969, and earned the group a gold record.

In 1970, Barry wrote and produced singles and albums for Ron Dante, Bobby Bloom ("Montego Bay"), and Robin McNamara ("Lay a Little Lovin' On Me"), among others. In addition, Barry penned his first music for motion pictures (Hello Down There (1969) and Where It's At) and wrote the music for and produced Tom Eyen's hit off-Broadway revue The Dirtiest Show in Town.

Production and film work

In 1971 Barry moved from New York to California, where he had a production and administration deal with A&M Records for several years. Between 1972 and 1975, he produced hit singles for Nino Tempo and April Stevens (together and separately) and the a cappella vocal group The Persuasions. During subsequent years he shifted his focus to television (writing the theme songs for One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Family Ties) and movies (the score for 1980's The Idolmaker), although he continued his work in the pop music field. In 1974, "I Honestly Love You," written by Barry with Peter Allen, became a #1 hit for singer Olivia Newton-John; and, in 1984, Jeffrey Osborne and Joyce Kennedy hit the Top 40 with another Barry composition, "The Last Time I Made Love" written with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

During the 1970s and 1980s Barry also scored numerous hit songs on the country charts, among them "Out Of Hand" by Gary Stewart, "Sayin' Hello, Sayin' I Love You, Sayin' Goodbye" by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius, "Lie To You For Your Love" by The Bellamy Brothers, a remake of "Chip Chip" (originally a 1962 Gene McDaniels pop smash) by Patsy Sledd, and "Walkin' In The Sun" by Glen Campbell.

In 1990, Barry and Goldsmith produced the theme song for the television series based on Where's Waldo?. In May 1991, Barry and Greenwich were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest rock songs included six Greenwich-Barry compositions, more than by any other non-performing songwriting team.[1]

During the mid-1990s, Barry served as president of the National Academy of Songwriters, and in December 1998 he was a recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award. In March 2000, Barry filmed a music special for the PBS television network, Chapel of Love: Jeff Barry and Friends. The show featured performances of Barry tunes by several of the artists who made them famous, including The Dixie Cups, The Crystals, Ronnie Spector, Andy Kim, Ray Peterson, and Ron Dante of The Archies.

In recent years, Barry has been involved in several projects, among them the Broadway bound musical comedy Knight Life. Knight Life (subtitled The Girl Who Would Be King) was written by Prudence Fraser and Robert Sternin — best known for their writing and production work on the CBS series The Nanny. Knight Life had its official world premiere in Vero Beach, Florida.

Awards and Honors

Barry was named, along with his writing partner and former wife Ellie Greenwich, one of the 2010 recipients of Ahmet Ertegun Award from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[2]

References

External links

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