Born Veronica Yvette Bennett, 10 August 1943, Spanish Harlem, New York City, New York
Few voices in popular music are as distinctive and memorable as that of Ronnie Spector, former lead singer of the ultimate sixties-era girl group, the Ronettes. Her tough and sexy voice embodied the wild spirit of early sixties pop like no other, and her spunky stage presence, bold multi-culti look, and brazen-yet-innocent sexuality set the tone for generations of "women in rock" who have followed in her footsteps. As a member of the Ronettes, young Veronica Bennett lived a fairy tale dream-come-true for a teenage girl growing up in Spanish Harlem in the early sixties. The Ronettes got their start as dancers, though they also recorded four singles for Colpix, 1961-63. Famed deejay Murray "The K" Kaufman discovered them dancing at the Peppermint Lounge and added them to his rock and roll revue at the Brooklyn-Fox Theater. There they caught the attention of music producer Phil Spector, who was primarily interested in Ronnie, but her mother insisted that the group stayed intact. Spector wrapped his legendary "wall of sound" around their voices and propelled the Ronettes onto the charts with a series of hits like "Be My Baby" (# 2), "Baby I Love You" (# 24), "The Best Part of Breakin' Up" (# 39) and "Walking in the Rain" (# 23). "Be My Baby" was an inter- national smash, and the Ronettes soon found themselves headlining in front of acts like the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds, and hanging out with the likes of the Beatles. The other two Ronettes were Ronnie's younger sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Their 1965-66 Philles singles were credited to "The Ronettes featuring Veronica". Unfortunately, the fairy tale came to end when Ronnie married Spector in 1968. Spector became not only increasingly controlling, but also reclusive, bringing Ronnie's career to a halt. That period of her life spent as Spector's prisoner of love stands as one of the saddest tales in pop history - captured in detail in her 1990 autobiography Be My Baby. In 1974, Ronnie divorced Phil, after she had already escaped from him in 1972, with the help of her mother. Determined to rebuild her career, she sang with everyone from Alice Cooper and Jimi Hendrix to Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen. Her 1986 duet with Eddie Money, "Take Me Home Tonight," was a # 4 hit across the U.S., nominated for a Grammy, and prompted her to a much celebrated 1987 comeback album, "Unfinished Business". Since then, she's been inducted into the New York Music Awards Hall of Fame, and in 1997, she even performed for the President. In 1999 she released the album "She Talks to Rainbows (Kill Rock Stars)". Nowadays she lives in Connecticut, with a supportive husband (Jonathan Greenfield) and two sons. And that voice is still as strong as ever.
More info (long Goldmine interview with Chuck Miller): http://members.aol.com/boardwalk7/rspector/rspector.html Nice website by a fan: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Studio/2469/ronettes.html CD : Best of the Ronettes (Abcko, 1992, 18 tracks). Autobiography: Ronnie Spector with Vince Waldron, Be my baby. How I survived mascara, miniskirts and madness, or My life as a fabulous Ronette. New York: Harmony, 1990. Paperback editions : New York : HarperCollins, 1991, and London : Pan, 1993. Recommended.
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