Hits for Broadway, film and television over a 40 year career.
Top pop hits include "Chapel of Love" and "Leader of the Pack."
Brooklyn-born Jeff Barry graduated from the borough's former Erasmus Hall High School, known for distinguished alums such as Mae West, Neil Diamond, and Barbra Streisand. He enjoyed his first major success with "Tell Laura I Love Her," a number-one hit song by Ray Peterson in 1961. At the time, Barry had just completed his second year at the New York School of Industrial Design, but he left college to accept a job as a staff songwriter for the Edward B. Marks Music Company, a publishing house known for helping popularize and distribute classical music to amateur musicians.
Barry's activities on the Manhattan music scene eventually led to a meeting with the songwriter Ellie Greenwich, who soon thereafter became his wife and partner in Red Bird Records, which they co-owned with producer George Goldner and songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, a prolific pair known for classics like “Hound Dog” and “Yakety Yak.” Red Bird became an incubator for hits penned for the Dixie Cups, leading the way with single smashes like "Chapel Of Love," "Iko Iko" and "People Say." One of the all-time classics of that era, The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack," also was on the Red Bird label.
Although Barry and Greenwich divorced in 1966, he continued writing independently and the following year started Steed Records. Steed became the pathway to stardom for Andy Kim, who came up with a series of hits including "How'd We Ever Get This Way," "Baby, I Love You," "Shoot 'Em Up, Baby," "Rainbow Ride" and "So Good Together." In 1966 Barry produced The Monkees' hit “I'm a Believer,” which went gold within two days of release and become the biggest selling record of 1967.
Barry's credits—as a writer, co-writer, producer, or a combination—extend to a mix of different genres. His song "Out of Hand" by Gary Stewart was the longest-charted country record of its year. He also wrote many other country tunes, including "If It Ain't Love by Now," sung by Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius, who later won the Country Music Association's Best Country Duo award. One of Barry's most successful songs of all was Olivia Newton-John's 1974 worldwide smash hit "I Honestly Love You," which won "Song of the Year" at the American Music Awards, and, for Newton-John, GRAMMY Awards for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Performance.
Other highlights from Barry's catalog include "So Deep in Love" by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams; "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" and "Baby Be Mine" by the Jellybeans and "Sugar Sugar," by The Archies, which was named Record of the Year by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Barry also composed the theme music for classic, memorable television shows such as One Day at a Time (“This Is It”), The Jeffersons (“Moving On Up”) and Family Ties (“Without Us”). "Movin' On Up" theme was sampled by rappers Nelly (in his 2000 hit “Batter Up”) as well as B-Rich in “Whoa Now,” released in 2002.
Barry served as president of the National Academy of Songwriters during the nineties and received their 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2000, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named eight Barry tunes among the most performed songs of the century: "Doo-Wah-Diddy," "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Hanky Panky," "Leader Of The Pack," "Sugar, Sugar" and "I Honestly Love You."