Jeff Barry
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Jeff Barry's Career Chronology

Jeff Barry

A  C A R E E R   C H R O N O L OG Y

J E F F   B A R R Y

Barry's songwriting talent manifests itself in childhood; his earliest song is a country and western ditty, "Got A Gun, Got A Saddle, Got A Pony, Too."  Country music is a strong early influence for him.  He meets future wife Ellie Greenwich at a family gathering (they are cousins by marriage).
Barry attends New York's Erasmus Hall High School with future stars Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand.  He writes and arranges songs for amateur high school singing groups and forms one of his own, The Tarrytones, with three classmates.  His musical influences during this period include Eddy Arnold, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Pat Boone.
Barry serves a 12-month hitch in the US Army, stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  He sings with military bands.  Upon discharge, he enrolls in engineering classes at City College New York.  He comes to love doo-wop music, later becoming a fan of Dion and The Belmonts.  His desire to become a singer intensifies in the next three years, and he auditions unsuccessfully for A & R men at various New York record labels.
A meeting is arranged between Barry and music publisher Arnold Shaw, to determine his potential as a singer.  Barry performs his own songs for Shaw, who is impressed by his skill and encourages him to pursue songwriting as a career.  However, his heart is set on performing, so Shaw helps him land a singles deal at RCA Victor.
With RCA staffers Charles Grean and Lee Schapiro producing, Barry cuts two self-written novelty sides, "It's Called Rock And Roll" and "Hip Couple."  On the prophetic A-side, Barry demonstrates various types of song styles he will later have great success writing in.  Barry arranges and conducts the session, which features King Curtis on saxophone.  The single fails to attract attention, and Arnold Shaw convinces Barry to go on staff at his publishing firm, EB Marks Music.  Shaw teams him with two of his best writers, Beverly Ross and Ben Raleigh. Earliest known recording of a Jeff Barry song, "Paper Crown," is released by The Crests.  Barry and Greenwich become reacquainted at a Thanksgiving dinner, and begin a musical friendship.
Barry concurrently pursues singing and songwriting careers.   Signed to Decca Records, he issues two self-composed singles, "It Won't Hurt" and "Lenore."  Later in the year, he returns to RCA Victor to cut an album from which two more singles emerge: Self-composed "Lonely Lips" and Broadway showtune "All You Need Is A Quarter."  All singles fail commercially, and his album is not released.  Staff producers Hugo and Luigi supervise the RCA recordings and help Barry place his songs "Teenage Sonata" and "Tell Laura I Love Her" with Sam Cooke and Ray Peterson, respectively.  Both songs become major hits, with the latter tune going to #1 in the United Kingdom in a cover version by British singer Ricky Valance.
Barry and Greenwich's friendship evolves into romance.  Impressed by her singing voice, Barry begins using Greenwich to sing demos of his songs.  Two of these demos, "Red Corvette" and "Big Honky Baby" are released as singles by Ellie Gee and The Jets, and Kellie Douglas, respectively.  Also impressed by her songwriting ability, he encourages her to go professional.  Barry contributes a cameo vocal to The Delicates' recording of his novelty tune "Dickie Went And Did It."  He leaves EB Marks to go on staff at Trinity Music, where he is teamed with Artie Resnick.  They score hits for Gene McDaniels ("Chip Chip") and Linda Scott ("I Left My Heart In The Balcony").  Their composition, "Blow Out The Sun," recorded by Della Reese, has a reggae-style beat; similar rhythms animate other early Barry tunes like "Write Me A Letter" and "Candle In The Wind."  Writing alone, Barry scores his second top British hit, Helen Shapiro's "Tell Me What He Said."  Using a pseudonym, he pens "The Water Was Red," the first US chart record for Johnny Cymbal.  Phil Spector chooses another of Barry's songs, "Anyone But You," for Ruth Brown and produces it for her.  Barry continues to issue recordings:  A solo single on United Artists, a Jubilee release under the pseudonym Billy Mitchell, and pseudo vocal group records (he sings all voices) by The Redwoods and The Spartans on Epic and Web Records.  Songwriters Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman hire him to sing demos, some of which are recorded by Elvis Presley.  Barry also begins to produce records.  His first production credit appears on Tony Richards "Caravan Of Lonely Men"/"Wind-Up Toy."  Issued on Carlton Records, both sides are composed by him and feature his backing vocals.  Other early Jeff Barry productions include "Palm Of Your Hand" by Chuck Wright and Stevie Temple, Jr's "Big Bully Blues."  He sings lead vocals on a cover version of "Caravan" released later in the year under bogus group name The Lovers.  Barry and Greenwich marry on October 28, 1962 and subsequently decide to collaborate on songs, even though they work for different publishing houses.  Among their first efforts are "Sweet Laurie, Fair Laurie," "Hanky Panky" and "What A Guy."
Leiber and Stoller, who employ Ellie Greenwich at their Trio Music publishing house, lure Barry from TM (formerly Trinity) Music to work for them as well.  Greenwich introduces Barry to Phil Spector, for whom she has written two hits, "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" and "Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart?"  Their collaboration with Spector yields a string of charting releases for Spector's artists, The Crystals ("Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me"), The Ronettes ("Be My Baby," "Baby, I Love You") and Darlene Love ("Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home," "A Fine, Fine Boy").  Ray Peterson scores with their ballad "Give Us Your Blessings."  They also give The Chiffons a pair of hit singles, "I Have A Boyfriend" and "When The Boy's Happy."  Leiber and Stoller sell a Barry-Greenwich demo to Jubilee Records, which results in another successful single, "What A Guy."  The couple forms a studio group, The Raindrops, and follows up "What A Guy" with the hits "The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget" and "That Boy John."  Leiber and Stoller begin assigning production duties to the team, and they produce The Darlettes, Baby Jane and The Rockabyes and The Exciters, among others, as well as artists on two labels controlled by Trio Music, Tiger and Daisy Records.  They wax original versions of their future hits "Doo-Wah-Diddy" and "Hanky Panky" during this period.  Barry travels to Hollywood and participates as a session musician in the making of Phil Spector's seasonal album, A Christmas Gift For You.  Critically acclaimed, it will be reissued annually.  Barry and Greenwich also contribute a powerful ballad to the album, "(Christmas) Baby, Please Come Home," which is sung by Darlene Love.  Barry's singing career is all but abandoned due to increased workload.

Barry and Greenwich break with Spector to co-found Red-Bird Records with Leiber and Stoller and veteran label executive George Goldner.  Now tagged as a team who can write hits for females, they are assigned to work with budding girl groups.  Major successes result for The Dixie Cups ("Chapel Of Love" and others), The Jellybeans ("I Wanna Love Him So Bad" and "Baby, Be Mine"), The Butterflys ("Good Night, Baby"), The Ad-Libs ("He Aint No Angel") and The Shangri-Las ("Leader Of The Pack" and others).  "Leader Of The Pack" is satirized by a studio group, The Detergents, featuring future Barry associate Ron Dante.  Barry begins supervising less experienced producers, such as Steve Venet, Ron Moseley, Bob Bateman and George "Shadow" Morton.  He and Greenwich become in-demand backing vocalists, leading to the chance to write hits for Lesley Gore ("Maybe I Know," "The Look Of Love") and Connie Francis ("Dont Ever Leave Me").  They contribute backing vocals to the soundtrack of Francis' third film, Looking For Love.  Manfred Mann covers "Doo-Wah-Diddy," taking it to #1 internationally.  The Crystals chart a UK hit with "I Wonder."  British singer Tony Sheveton scores with an old Barry-Resnick number, "A Million Drums."  The Raindrops continue to chart with "Let's Go Together," "One More Tear," and a remake of the doo-wop oldie "Book Of Love."  At the 1964 BMI songwriter awards, Barry and Greenwich win 6 trophies, beating out all other writers except Lennon and McCartney of The Beatles and The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson.  Barry meets future wife Nancy Cal Cagno; she is the night manager at Mirasound Studios, where he often cuts sessions.
Barry and Greenwich branch out with male acts, scoring hits with Sam Hawkins ("Hold On Baby," "I Know It's All Right").  Barry's experimentation with Caribbean rhythms leads to "Iko Iko," a groundbreaking and enduring hit for The Dixie Cups.  He writes and produces more hits for The Dixie Cups ("Gee, The Moon Is Shining Bright"), The Shangri-Las ("Out In The Streets," a remake of "Give Us Your Blessings"), and The Butterflys (a remake of "I Wonder").  A non-Red-Bird production with Bert Berns results in a hit for The Drifters ("I'll Take You Where The Music's Playing").  The Raindrops are disbanded, and Barry cuts his first solo record in over two years, "I'll Still Love You," for Red-Bird.  He co-produces an Ellie Greenwich solo single with Shadow Morton: "You Don't Know" will become a cult favorite in subsequent years.  Barry discovers future collaborator Andy Kim in a demo studio, and produces his first record for Red-Bird.  Greenwich discovers future superstar Neil Diamond in a demo studio.  She and Barry are taken with his songwriting ability, and they form a publishing company (Tallyrand) with him.  They sign him to Red-Bird, but Leiber and Stoller leave Diamond to languish indefinitely.  Barry's marriage with Greenwich becomes strained, and they separate.
Reparata and The Delrons record Barry's Shangri-Las-styled song "I'm Nobody's Baby Now," which will become a cult favorite.  Tommy James and The Shondells take a retooled version of "Hanky Panky" to #1.  Phil Spector reunites with a now divorcing Barry and Greenwich to write "River-Deep, Mountain-High," "I Can Hear Music" and "I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine." Barry produces the latter two tunes for The Ronettes ("I Wish I Never . . . " stays unreleased).  Ike & Tina Turner's recording of "River-Deep, Mountain-High" becomes a British smash.  It, as well as "I Can Hear Music" will be revived to great acclaim in years to come.  Red-Bird Records flounders, and Barry and Greenwich leave it to become freelance producers.  Barry takes Neil Diamond to Atlantic Records, but Bert Berns maneuvers him onto his new label, Bang Records.  Diamond enjoys a string of hits under Barry-Greenwich supervision, including "Cherry, Cherry," "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon," "Red, Red Wine," "Kentucky Woman" and "Thank The Lord For The Night Time."  Barry takes four Neil Diamond songs to Don Kirshner, music supervisor in charge of hit TV series The Monkees.  He subsequently produces actor Micky Dolenz singing "I'm A Believer," which becomes one of the biggest-selling records of all-time.  He takes over as The Monkees' main producer and cuts numerous sessions with Dolenz, Peter Tork and Davy Jones, using his own songs as well as those of top writers like Goffin and King.  He also produces solo artist Gayle Haness for Bang, and with Ellie Greenwich, cuts new sides with Tony Pass (formerly Tony Richards) for Atco Records.  Writing and producing with Bert Berns, Barry scores a hit for The McCoys ("I Got To Go Back And Watch That Little Girl Dance"), and pens a tribute song to Aretha Franklin ("Aretha") which is released by The Drifters.  He hires ex-Detergent Ron Dante as a backing vocalist on recording sessions.
Jeff Barry weds Nancy Cal Cagno on January 23; they will have two children.  He participates as a session musician in on Van Morrison's American debut album and sings background on Morrison's hit single "Brown-Eyed Girl."  In partnership with engineer Brooks Arthur, he opens Century Sound Studios in New York City.  He produces Davy Jones singing "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," written by Neil Diamond.  It becomes another international smash for The Monkees, but the actors demand more creative control, and Barry is abruptly replaced as their producer.  In April, Barry leaves Leiber and Stoller's Trio Music and signs a lucrative contract with Unart Music.  He also launches his own label, Steed Records, with Hollywood-based Dot Records as its distributor.  He will produce every release.  He signs Keepers Of The Light, The Rich Kids, Hank Shifter, Louis St. Louis and Jacqueline Carol to recording contracts, but all releases by these artists fail commercially.  He produces a session with Jay and The Americans, which leads to occasional songwriting collaboration with groupmember Marty Sanders.  With Bert Berns, he writes and co-produces the R & B hit "Am I Groovin' You?" for Freddie Scott.   In December, a dispute between Berns and Neil Diamond leads Diamond to leave Bang Records for the MCA-affiliated Uni label.  Barry and Greenwich side with Berns and refuse to produce any more records for him.  The failure of "Friday Kind Of Monday," a single by The Meantime (a revamped version of The Raindrops) precipitates the end of the Barry-Greenwich professional partnership.  Barry produces and serves as musical director for a Broadway-bound musical, The Freaking Out Of Stephanie Blake.  He casts Ron Dante in the production.  The show closes in previews before reaching Broadway.  The Beach Boys' reworked version of "Then He Kissed Me" hits big in England.  Ike & Tina Turner chart with "I'll Never Need More Than This," the belated follow-up to "River-Deep, Mountain-High."
Tollie Records issues "I'm Takin' It Home" by The Down Five, the final Barry-Greenwich production collaboration.  Don Kirshner contracts Barry to write and produce music for a new Saturday morning cartoon show, Archie.  Barry chooses Ron Dante as lead singer for Kirshner's proposed cartoon group.  Chart singles result: "Bang-Shang-A-Lang" and "Feelin' So Good (SKOOBY-DOO)."  Barry's music makes Archie one of the most popular cartoons in television history.  He signs Andy Kim to Steed Records, and strikes up a songwriting partnership with him (they collaborate on the second Archies hit).  Kim kicks off a string of Steed hits with the singles "How'd We Ever Get This Way," "Shoot 'Em Up, Baby" and "Rainbow Ride."  Ellie Greenwich sings background on most of Kim's recordings.  Duo Jon and Robin score a hit with "You Got Style," written by Barry and Kim.  The Strangeloves score with the Barry-Sanders tune "Honey Do."  Barry writes a single for actor Tony Randall, "We Only Kill Each Other."


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