Neil Diamond has paid a touching tribute to singer/songwriter ELLIE GREENWICH, who died from a heart attack last week (ends28Aug09), crediting her for his career.
Greenwich, who sang background vocals on many of Diamond's biggest hits, was also part of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound songwriting team.
The Red Red Wine singer says, "If I hadn't met Ellie Greenwich I wouldn't have had a career. I met her at a demo session. I had enough in my budget to hire a few background singers and even though Ellie was one of the hottest writers in the country she still did background dates just because she liked to hang out with her girlfriends."
He tells Rolling Stone magazine, "She liked my voice or she liked the song or something and she took me back to meet her husband, Jeff Barry, and they got me signed to (legendary songwriting team) Leiber and Stoller and that lasted a year. I got canned from that job but Jeff and Ellie said, 'Hey, how 'bout we produce you?' We got a record deal with Bang records and the rest is history.
"Ellie was the best background singer ever. She did all the background parts on my early Bang records, Cherry Cherry, She Got the Way to Move Me, Kentucky Woman - all of those records were Jeff and Ellie. They just had this great knack of singing all kinds of background parts and they were great at it.
"Ellie and Jeff were like one. They thought alike, they just fell into line with each other so quickly partly because they were married, partly because they were together every day and partly because they were so talented. It was just a very natural collaboration between the two of them... They were the greatest background singers ever."
Diamond admits he always made a point of visiting Greenwich when he returned to New York and was upset when she was unable to make it to his recent shows at Madison Square Garden: "I invited her and I don't know if she wasn't feeling well... I was a little concerned about that, but I didn't know she was ill.
"She was too young (to die). She will always be that 20 year old in the studio just overflowing with energy and enthusiasm, laughing, having fun, coming up on the spot with these fantastic background parts or these horn parts on Kentucky Woman or Solitary Man. It was a joyful time for all of us."