Ronnie Spector

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This article is about the singer. For the special effects artist, see Ronnie Specter.
Ronnie Spector
Ronnie Spector (1971).png
Spector in 1971.
Background information
Birth name Veronica Yvette Bennett
Born (1943-08-10) August 10, 1943 (age 72)
East Harlem, New York City, New York, U.S.
Genres Rock, Pop, R&B
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1959–present
Labels Colpix, Philles, Columbia, Apple
Associated acts The Ronettes, Eddie Money, George Harrison Darlene Love, Johnny Rivers, Elvis Presley, Debbie Harry
Website Official website

Ronnie Spector (born Veronica Yvette Bennett; August 10, 1943) is an American singer. She was lead singer of the R&B/Pop girl group, the Ronettes which had a string of hits in the 1960s. She has been called the original "bad girl of rock and roll".[1][2]

Early life[edit]

She was born Veronica Yvette Bennett in New York City, the daughter of an African-American and Cherokee mother and Irish father.[citation needed] She and her sister, Estelle Bennett (1941–2009), were encouraged to sing by their large family, as was their cousin, Nedra Talley. All three women would later become members of the Ronettes.[3]


Main article: The Ronettes
The Ronettes, 1966.
Spector in 2010.

The Ronettes were a popular live attraction around the greater New York area in the early 1960s. Looking for a recording contract, they initially were signed to Colpix Records and produced by Stu Phillips. After releasing a few singles on Colpix without success, they were signed by Phil Spector to Philles Records. Their relationship with Spector brought chart success with "Be My Baby", "Baby, I Love You", "The Best Part of Breakin' Up", "Do I Love You?", and "Walking in the Rain". The group had two top 100 hits in 1965: "Born to Be Together" and "Is This What I Get for Loving You?" The group broke up in early 1967, following a European concert tour that included their appearance at the Moonlight Lounge, in Gelnhausen, Germany, where they entertained American military personnel. The group's last single, "I Can Hear Music", on the Philles Records label (# 133), was released in the fall of 1966. That song was not produced by Phil Spector, who used to hire the "Wrecking Crew", Los Angeles area musicians, to provide Wall of Sound orchestral pop symphony backups for the group, at the Gold Star Recording Studio in Hollywood. Instead, "I Can Hear Music" was produced by songwriter/producer Jeff Barry, who used only a small band when he recorded the trio in a New York City recording studio. Phil stopped producing new Ronettes' records and kept many of the group's numerous unreleased songs in the vault for years. The Ronettes were never to reunite until their 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1966 was also the year when Phil Spector went into a brief seclusion. Thereafter, a one-off single, "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered," sung by Ronnie but credited to "The Ronettes Featuring the Voice of Veronica," appeared in 1969 on Herb Alpert's A&M Records label, with "Oh I Love You", an old Ronettes B-side, as the flip. Only Ronnie's voice was used for the lead and background vocals on "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered". Ronnie's recording and performing career had begun its long hiatus.

In February 1971, during Phil Spector's tenure as head of A&R at Apple Records, Spector recorded the single "Try Some, Buy Some"/"Tandoori Chicken" at Abbey Road Studios, released as Apple 33 in the UK and Apple 1832 in the US.[4][5] The A-side was written by George Harrison, and produced by both him and Spector. Although the single was not a big hit, its backing track was used two years later for Harrison's own version of the song, on his chart-topping Living in the Material World album.[6] "Try Some, Buy Some" had another lasting influence when John Lennon recorded "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" later the same year and asked Spector (co-producing again) to reproduce the mandolin-laden Wall of Sound he had created for Spector's single. Lennon liked the rockabilly B-side too; he sang it at his birthday party in New York in October 1971 (a recording of which has appeared on bootlegs).[7] Spector recorded other Harrison songs during those London sessions − including "You" and "When Every Song Is Sung" − but her versions were never released, even though a full album had been planned originally.[8]

In the early to mid-1970s, Spector briefly reformed the Ronettes (as Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes) with two new members (Chip Fields Hurd, the mother of actress Kim Fields, and Diane Linton). In her book, she recounted several abortive attempts to recapture mainstream success throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, during which time she was widely perceived as an oldies act.[citation needed]

Billy Joel's hit "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" (1976) was inspired by Ronnie.[citation needed] Ronnie herself covered it in 1977 backed by Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Ronnie recorded her first solo album in 1980 produced by Genya Ravan, which was a prelude to her work with Joey Ramone in the late 1990s.

In 1976, she sang a duet with Southside Johnny on the recording "You Mean So Much To Me", penned by Southside's longtime friend Bruce Springsteen and produced by Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band. This was the final track on the Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes' debut album I Don't Want To Go Home. She also made appearances with the band the following year.

In 1983, Spector and the other Ronettes sued Phil Spector for non-payment of royalties, eventually winning a $3 million judgement in 2003 and establishing the terms of the group's 1963 contract as binding.[citation needed]

In 1986, Spector enjoyed a resurgence to popular radio airplay as the featured vocalist on Eddie Money's Top 5 hit "Take Me Home Tonight", (where she is introduced by Money singing "just like Ronnie sang (Money)... OH, OH, OH, OH-OH (Ronnie Spector)"). The video to the hit recording was one of the top videos of the year and in power rotation on MTV. During this period, she also recorded the song "Tonight You're Mine, Baby" (from the film Just One of the Guys).

In 1988, Spector began performing at the Ronnie Spector's Christmas Party, a seasonal staple at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.[9][10][11]

In 1999, she released the critically acclaimed album, She Talks to Rainbows, which featured a few covers of older songs. Joey Ramone acted as producer and appeared on stage with her to promote the record. In 2003, she provided backing vocals for The Misfits' album, Project 1950.[citation needed]

Spector and her group were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.[citation needed]

Spector provided guest vocals on the track "Ode to LA", on The Raveonettes' album Pretty in Black (2005).

The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.[12]

Spector's album Last of the Rock Stars (2009) was released by Bad Girl Sounds and featured contributions from members of The Raconteurs, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Raveonettes, Patti Smith, and Keith Richards. Spector herself has co-produced two of the songs.[citation needed]

A Christmas EP, Ronnie Spector's Best Christmas Ever, was released on Bad Girl Sounds in November 2010, featuring five new Christmas songs.[citation needed]

In 2011, after the death of Amy Winehouse, Ronnie Spector released her version of Winehouse's single "Back to Black" (2006) as a tribute and for the benefit of the Daytop Village addiction treatment centers.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Ronnie Spector was married to Phil Spector from 1968 to 1974[14] and took his name professionally. They adopted three children: Donté, Louis and Gary Phillip.

Ronnie Spector lives in the area of Danbury, Connecticut[15] with her second husband, Jonathan Greenfield,[16] and their two sons, Austin Drew and Jason Charles.[17]

Ronettes and solo album discography[edit]


  1. ^ The Last of the Rock Stars by Patrick Donovan (April 12, 2006)
  2. ^ The Ronettes – Inductees (Inducted 2004) – The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation
  3. ^ Sisario, Ben (February 16, 2009). "A Life of Troubles Followed a Singer's Burst of Fame". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  4. ^ Castleman, Harry & Podrazik, Walter J. (1976). All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. p. 100. 
  5. ^ Badham, Keith (2002). The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001. London: Omnibus Press. pp. 25–26. 
  6. ^ Leng, Simon (2006). While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. pp. 133–34. 
  7. ^ Badham, Keith (2002). The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001. London: Omnibus Press. p. 51. 
  8. ^ Harrison, George Harrison (2002). I Me Mine. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. pp. 218, 228. 
  9. ^ Reed, James (December 23, 2008). "Still rockin' around". 
  10. ^ "RONNIE SPECTOR'S BEST CHRISTMAS PARTY EVER!". B.B. King Blues Club & Grill. New York. 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Events: Ronnie Spector". 2013. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Ronettes biography". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 2007. 
  13. ^ "Exclusive: Ronnie Spector Pays Tribute to Amy Winehouse". Rolling Stone. July 27, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Ronnie Spector - Singer - Biography". Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  15. ^ Tuccio, M.B. (May 15, 2012). "'Beyond the Beehive' tells Ronnie Spector's life story". Connecticut Post. 
  16. ^ Sisario, Ben (February 16, 2009). "A Life of Troubles Followed a Singer’s Burst of Fame". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ "Entertainment". MSN Entertainment (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform). May 6, 2010. p. 7. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]