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
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.
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
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."