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Death ain’t no do wah ditty - it comes in threes

An old wive’s tale intones that bad things happen in threes. So being the un-superstitious person that I am, every time I hear that someone passes away, I hold my breath waiting for the other two shoes to drop. Celebrities are no exception to this rule, so last week when I heard that Senator Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy passed away at the ripe old age of 77, I just knew that at least two more would follow. Sure enough the next day, August 26,the papers listed the deaths of Dominick Dunne, 83, novelist, journalist at Vanity Fair and bon vivant, and Ellie Greenwich.

We have all heard of Ted Kennedy and anyone who has ever picked up an issue of Vanity Fair has read Dominick Dunne. But who in the world is Ellie Greenwich, you may ask?

For all of us who grew up in the ‘60s, Ellie Greenwich wrote the words that made the world and our teenage hearts sing.

She was the genius talent behind the lyrics to such favorites as “Be My Baby,” “Leader of the Pack,” “Chapel of Love” and “Then He Kissed Me” along with over 200 other classics.

Some of you may argue that “Da Doo Ron Ron” or “Doo Wah Diddy” may not exactly be introspective lyrics, but combined with a catchy tune, these words, once heard, would tumble around in your head for hours. To this day, whenever I hear one of her songs, the lyrics swirl around for hours conjuring up a myriad of memories. This was the power of her gift - lyrics that were easy to remember, easy to sing and hard to get out of your head.

EllieGreenwich was born in Brooklyn on October 23, 1940. When she was 10 she moved with her parents to Levittown, New York and soon thereafter began taking accordion lessons. By the time she was 17 she was writing songs with a variety of partners and performing. In October 1962, Greenwich married Jeff Barry and soon decided to write songs exclusively with him.

Before the end of 1963, Barry-Greenwich had scored hits such as “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You,”“Then He Kissed Me,” “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Not Too Young To Get Married,” all co-written and produced by Phil Spector.

Ellie Greenwich passed away August 26 at the age of 68. Although she was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1992, was a prolific lyricist for a good portion of her 68 years and was one of the first female record producers as well as back-up singer for Dusty Springfield, Bobby Darin, Electric Light Orchestra and a host of others, she never achieved Kennedy or Dunne magnitude. In fact, most of us never knew her name, even though we all knew her words.

Good-bye, Teddy, so-long, Dominick, farewell Ellie - thanks for the da doo ron ron’s and the do wah diddy’s. The next time I hear, “I met him at the candy store, he turned around and smiled at me, you get the picture? Yes we see,” I will think of you, your talent, your songs, your contribution to the world of music and to all those lyrics that swirl around in my head for hours -JDelBuono@cnglocal.com

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