Beverly Ross, who with hits like “Lollipop” grew to become one of many high girls songwriters in rock ’n’ roll’s early years, however who ended her profession early after a piece relationship turned bitter, died on Jan. 15 in a hospital in Nashville. She was 87.
The trigger was dementia, mentioned her nephew, Cliff Stieglitz.
Whereas in highschool, Ms. Ross would experience the bus from her household’s dwelling in New Jersey to hold across the Brill Constructing, then the middle of New York music publishing. There she managed to strike up conversations with songwriters like Julius Dixon.
In 1954, when Ms. Ross was solely 19, she collaborated with Mr. Dixon on her breakout tune, “Dim, Dim the Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere).” A recording of it by Invoice Haley & His Comets reached No. 11 on the Billboard singles chart, simply months earlier than the band’s “(We’re Gonna) Rock Across the Clock” grew to become the primary rock ’n’ roll tune to succeed in No. 1.
Rolling Stone would later describe “Dim, Dim the Lights” as “the primary ‘white’ tune to cross over to R&B.” It had bluesy electrical guitar riffs, a jaunty strolling bass and lyrics of come-hither flirtatiousness, even because it maintained an adolescent innocence, impressed by highschool crushes and occasion video games like spin the bottle: “I’m stuffed with soda and potato chips/However now I wanna get a style/Of your candy lips.”
That mixture of upbeat rhythms and frivolously romantic themes grew to become Ms. Ross’s method.
She and Mr. Dixon scored one other hit with “Lollipop,” a tune as candy and compact because the titular sweet. A 1958 recording by the Chordettes reached No. 2 and have become an everlasting pop-culture earworm, with appearances on “The Simpsons” and in a commercial for Dell computer systems.
By the early Sixties Ms. Ross had turn out to be, together with Carole King and some others, one of many high girls writers in rock, “certainly one of solely a sprinkling of feminine writers to make it in a vehemently male construction,” Mark Ribowsky wrote in “He’s a Insurgent: Phil Spector, Rock and Roll’s Legendary Producer” (2000).
Ms. Ross additionally co-wrote songs recorded by stars like Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. However in just some years, her profession would abruptly unravel.
By Ms. Ross’s telling, in 1960 she struck up a working friendship with a then-obscure aspiring songwriter who stood to learn from her clout: Phil Spector. The 2 labored on tune concepts, reduce a demo tape and confided in one another about troubles of their households. Ms. Ross launched him to gamers within the business.
Whereas they had been tinkering with a riff collectively one night time, Ms. Ross recalled, Mr. Spector out of the blue declared he had enterprise to take care of and ran out the door.
Quickly, Ms. Ross was shocked to listen to the riff, within the hit tune “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King. Mr. Spector had used it with out giving Ms. Ross credit score (he and Jerry Leiber had been the credited writers) — and he had additionally begun to disregard her.
From then on, she declined to work if it might carry her into the orbit of Mr. Spector, however she was nonetheless decided to show she may write hits and co-wrote a number of extra within the early ’60s, together with “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” which as recorded by Lesley Gore reached No. 5.
Then she give up, spiraling into what she described to Mr. Ribowsky as “a suicidal despair.”
“This unusual transfer I made away from the large acceptance and potential I’d labored so diligently to realize left me hanging in nowheresville,” she wrote in a dishy, score-settling memoir, “I Was the First Woman Phil Spector Killed” (2013), “however I’ll have saved my sanity by doing it.”
But Ms. Ross additionally lived with remorse. “I ought to have simply bowed down and realized I’d been requested to jot down for the ‘royalty of rock ’n’ roll,’” she wrote.
Beverly Ross was born on Sept. 5, 1934, in Brooklyn and grew up in Lakewood, N.J. Her father, Aron, labored as a cobbler together with his brother in New York Metropolis after which as a hen farmer in Lakewood. Her mom, Rachel (Frank) Ross, labored as a bookkeeper for the shoe enterprise and helped out on the farm.
Bev, as she was referred to as, aspired from a younger age to a profession in music, however she didn’t know how you can get began. She encountered musicians who had been acting at a resort the place her sister labored in Lakewood, and he or she struck a take care of certainly one of them: He would inform her how you can break into the business if she set him up on a date along with her sister.
All the person needed to do, it turned out, was inform Bev of the existence of the Brill Constructing.
Ms. Ross’s burst of songwriting success gave her an earnings in royalties that she lived on comfortably. She resided for a few years in an condominium on the Higher West Aspect, however later purchased a home in Nashville and started writing nation music.
She is survived by her companion, Ferris Butler, a comedy writer. They married within the mid-Seventies and later divorced, however they reconnected and had been collectively for the ultimate years of her life.