Publicity photo for Ellie's debut LP Composes, Produces, & Sings in 1968

Ellie & Jeff in the studio

Yeah, I actually think "Beautiful" is the best song she's ever done.

Absolutely. Absolutely. You know because I have my niece and nephew, they're always like, "Ellie, you have to listen to Coldplay and this and that." And I have. Some of the stuff I think is fine, but it doesn't grab me like stuff used to. I mean, maybe it's our age—I don't know how old you are.

I'm 27, but I feel the same—

27??? You're ridiculous!

No, but I feel the same way! I predominantly listen to music from the sixties because that's where the magic is.

I mean, thank god for people like you. Actually, I'm leaving Monday to go to Australia for the "Leader Of The Pack" performances, and it's interesting because when I look at the audiences, there are people my age and younger people—all having such a good time. It's wonderful to see that!

Your music translates to all generations. It's gonna be that way forever.

I hope so (Laughs). To me there's always something good in music. But if you're taking the art of writing songs, I think it's more writing records now than it is writing songs. Plus it's very much a black market, and it's funny to say that because I tell myself, "Well Ellie, you had hits with Darlene Love, Tina Turner, Ronnie Spector—HELLO?" But that was different. It was pop. Today a lot of the pop is gone.

You've worked with hundreds of artists over the years—which artist made for the best collaboration in your opinion?

Cyndi Lauper. I think she's phenomenal.

Did you encounter any sexism during the '60s or were you always treated as an equal?

In a way I was very fortunate because I worked with Jeff [Barry] [Ellie's then-husband and writing partner], so if they felt a certain way towards me as a woman, they didn't show it because Jeff was around. However, when I would be in the studio and ask the guitarists to give me a "Chk chk chk on the two and the four" they're kinda like, "Whatever." Because at first I was Ellie in the miniskirt with the blond hair, and I don't know how seriously they took me until they realized that I knew what I was doing.

It's interesting because although Jeff Barry never showed it, I think there was a little bit of that there also. If you look at the Raindrops records, you'll see that the first record reads: produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Then he decided that we should split the names up so it read: produced by Ellie and Jeff Barry. And then finally it was: produced by Jeff Barry. Just by reading production credits at different times you can really see how socially, so to speak, it went back then. Carole King and myself were the only two girls who wrote, sang, and also produced. I think we were very well liked, but underneath it all there was a little resentment. The girls could be the singers, maybe even a writer, but the person in charge of the studio was usually a man.

Even today female producers and engineers are still not that common, so I think it has yet to be seen as the norm.

Now it's so much better, but I guess it will always be "Me Tarzan, You Jane" out there no matter how you look at it.

Ha! Ha! Yeah, the men will never learn. So do you own original copies of all your records?

I do, I'm not sure if they're melted in this warehouse or not. But I do have original copies of all my stuff. One of the rarest demos I have—that I could probably get a fortune for—is Phil Spector playing the guitar and singing lead, me playing the piano, and Jeff tapping on the piano doing "Baby I Love You."

Oh my lord!!!

I'm tellin' you, I could probably make a million dollars on it.

I'm sure you could with all the voracious record collectors out there.

Forget about it! I mean, Phil sounds like Bob Dylan on that. It's funny because you hear exactly what the song was going to be. I remember whispering to our engineer Brooks Arthur, "Brooks, make me a copy!"