1963 The Raindrops – The Kind Of Boy You Can’t Forget
Two of the most prolific songwriters from the Brill Building accidentally released a record that almost reached the top forty. They later had a top twenty hit and wrote a long list of hits for other artists.
Jeff Barry began recording singles for RCA Records in 1959. He became more successful as a writer when he co-wrote the chart-topping song Tell Laura I Love Her.
Ellie Greenwich learned to play the accordion and was writing her own songs while still a young teenager. She learned to play the piano and released her first single when she was only 17.
Jeff and Ellie got married in 1962 and were each working at the Brill Building. Besides writing songs, Ellie sang on countless demos. They started writing songs together with Phil Spector and created several big hits for groups he was working with.
The pair recorded a demo of a song that Jeff had written for The Sensations, who had a top five hit in 1962 with Let Me In. The demo was a simple recording. Ellie played piano and sang lead vocals and overdubbed a few background vocals. Jeff played drums and sang backup vocals. Jubilee Records chose to release the demo as a single instead of recording the song with The Sensations. The record peaked at #41 on the Hot 100 and reached #25 on the R&B chart in 1963. The label released the single using a group name, The Raindrops.
Even though she never sang on any recordings by the Raindrops, the label used pictures of Ellie’s younger sister Laura to promote the group. Jeff and Ellie did not appear in live performances, but they hired other singers to appear as the Raindrops. Laura sometimes sang as a member of the group in the live shows.
The duo’s next release was The Kind Of Boy You Can’t Forget. The single did even better, reaching #17 on the Hot 100.
The group’s third single, That Boy John, was released in late 1963 and peaked at #64 early the next year. That single was perhaps the most important recording the Raindrops made. The pair didn’t have a b-side for the single, and it took them only twenty minutes to write a song: Hanky Panky.
Garage bands started playing the song, and Tommy James heard one of those bands and later recorded his own version that got released in 1964. Tommy’s record failed to chart until a disc jockey in Pittsburgh began playing the record in 1965. Tommy convinced Roulette Records to release the song, and in 1966 it topped the Hot 100.
At least four more singles credited to the Raindrops were released, but the duo stopped recording as the Raindrops after none of them reached the top forty.
Jeff and Ellie divorced in 1965 but continued working together from time to time for a few more years. They worked for Red Bird Records, and later they each formed their own record labels.
Jeff not only continued writing hit records, but he also began producing them. Later, he also wrote several television theme songs.
Ellie collaborated with other songwriters and continued singing background vocals for other artists.
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