gigatos | April 2, 2022
Veronica Spector Greenfield, born Veronica Yvette Bennett on August 10, 1943 in New York and died on January 12, 2022 in Danbury, Connecticut, known by her artist name Ronnie Spector, is an American singer. She formed the doo-wop group the Ronettes in 1957 with her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Ronnie Spector leads the group while the record producer Phil Spector, with whom she married in 1968 before their separation in 1972, produces the majority of their songs.
Ronnie Spector sang on the Ronettes” string of hits in the mid-1960s, such as Be My Baby (1963), Baby, I Love You (1963), The Best Part of Breakin” Up (1964) and Walking in the Rain (1964). In 1964, she launched a solo career with the single So Young. Starting in 1980, she released five studio albums: Siren (1980), Unfinished Business (1987), Something”s Gonna Happen (2003), Last of the Rock Stars (2006) and English Heart (2016). She also recorded a play, She Talks to Rainbows (1999). In 1986, Ronnie Spector experienced a career resurgence when she appeared on Eddie Money”s song Take Me Home Tonight.
She is referred to as the “original bad girl of rock and roll”. In 1990, she published her memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness Or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Ronettes.
Ronnie Spector was born Veronica Yvette Bennett in Washington Heights, the daughter of an African-American-Cherokee mother and an Irish-American father. She and her sister, Estelle Bennett (1941-2009), were encouraged to sing by their large family, as was their cousin, Nedra Talley. The three women formed the Darling Sisters, later known as the Ronettes.
The Ronettes became a popular attraction in the greater New York area in the early 1960s. Seeking a recording contract, they were first 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 them chart success with Be My Baby (1963), Baby, I Love You (1963), The Best Part of Breakin” Up (1964), Do I Love You? (1964) and Walking in the Rain (1964). The group had two top 100 hits in 1965 with Born to Be Together and Is This What I Get for Loving You?
In 1965, the Ronettes were voted the third biggest singing group in England behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In August 1966, the Ronettes teamed up with the Beatles for a 14-city tour across America. Phil Spector became so enraged when Ronnie expressed a desire to accompany Estelle and Nedra on the tour that Ronnie was forced to stay in California with him while the girls” cousin Elaine, who had previously been in the band, filled in on the tour, while Nedra or Estelle took over solo vocals on stage. A photo published in the November 1966 issue of Ebony magazine showed Nedra Talley singing lead, while Estelle and Elaine stood behind her singing harmony. The Ronettes broke up in early 1967, following a concert tour of Europe that included their appearance at the Moonlight Lounge in Gelnhausen, Germany, where they entertained U.S. military personnel.
Ronnie”s album, You Came, You Saw, You Conquered, credited as “The Ronettes featuring the Voice of Veronica,” appeared in 1969 on Herb Alpert”s A&M Records, featuring Oh I Love You, an old Ronettes B-side. Her voice was used for solo vocals and backing vocals. Phil Spector kept many of the band”s unreleased songs in the vault for years.
In February 1971, during Phil Spector”s tenure as A&R manager at Apple Records, Ronnie recorded the single Try Some, Buy Some
In 1973, she reformed the Ronettes (as Ronnie Spector & the Ronettes) with two new members (Chip Fields Hurd, the mother of actress Kim Fields, and Diane Linton). They released a few singles on Buddah Records. The records failed to chart and by 1975 Ronnie was recording solo. She released the single You”d Be Good For Me on Tom Cat Records in 1975.
In 1976, she sang a duet with Southside Johnny on the song You Mean So Much To Me, written by Southside”s longtime friend Bruce Springsteen and produced by Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band. It was the final track on Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes” debut album, I Don”t Want to Go Home. She also appeared with the band the following year at a concert in New York City at the Bottom Line, where she sang on 3 covers of Ronnetes hits Baby I Love You, Walking in the Rain and of course Be My Baby as well as a cover of Billy Joel”s 1976 song Say Goodbye to Hollywood and finally the song she had performed on with Southside Johnny the year before You Mean So Much To Me. This performance would see the light of day on the live album Live At The Bottom Line New York City ”77 to be released in 2015.
In her book, Ronnie Spector recounted several failed attempts to regain mainstream success throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, a period in which she was widely perceived as an act of yesteryear. She 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.
From 1983 to 2002 Take Me Home Tonight and back to music
In 1986, Ronnie Spector enjoyed a resurgence of popular radio tunes as the featured vocalist on Eddie Money”s Top 5 hit, Take Me Home Tonight, in which she responded to Money”s “just like Ronnie sang” chorus with “Be my little baby.” The video for the song was one of the top videos of the year and in heavy rotation on MTV. During this time, she also recorded the song Tonight You”re Mine, Baby (from the movie Just One of the Guys).
In 1988, she began performing at Ronnie Spector”s Christmas party, a seasonal staple at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York. In 1999, she released the EP She Talks to Rainbows, which contained 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 on the band”s album Project 1950, on the songs This Magic Moment and You Belong to Me.
In 2004, Ronnie Spector was recognized for her contribution to American popular music when she was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Ronnie Spector provided backing vocals for the song Ode to LA, on the Raveonettes” album Pretty in Black (2005). Ronnie”s solo album, Last of the Rock Stars (2006), 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 co-produced two of the songs.
Despite Phil Spector”s objections, the Ronettes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
A Christmas EP, Best Christmas Ever, was released on Bad Girl Sounds in November 2010, featuring five new Christmas songs.
In 2011, after Amy Winehouse”s death, Ronnie Spector released her version of Winehouse”s 2006 single Back to Black as a tribute and benefit for Daytop Village drug treatment centers. She also performed the song as part of her live show, including on her 2015 UK tour.
In 2016, she released, via 429 Records, English Heart, her first album of new material in a decade. The album features her versions of songs from the British Invasion by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Bee Gees and others produced by Scott Jacoby. English Heart peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
On August 9, 2017, People Magazine premiered a new single Love Power produced by Narada Michael Walden by Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes, making it the first Ronettes single in decades. The song was released on August 18, 2017.
In 2018, Ronnie Spector appeared in the music documentary; Amy Winehouse: Back to Black (2018), based on singer Amy Winehouse, who passed away in 2011, and her final 2006 studio album Back to Black. The album was inspired by Amy”s 1960s girl groups, such as The Ronettes. It contains new interviews as well as archival footage.
In September 2020, it was announced that actress Zendaya would play Spector in a biopic adapted from her memoir Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness.
The meeting with Jimi Hendrix
In the summer of 1964, the Ronettes spent a lot of time hanging out at Odine, an exclusive East Side club on Fifty-ninth Street in Manhattan. According to Ronnie, this is where the Ronettes were first introduced to Jimi Hendrix, who was an unknown guitarist at the time. Ronnie used to get up and sing with Hendrix while he played guitar. After meeting Hendrix again at a party in 1969, Estelle and Ronnie were invited into the studio to do backing vocals on Hendrix”s song Earth Blues. Their work on the chorus earned the Ronettes a credit on Hendrix”s Rainbow Bridge album, released in October 1971.
In 1968, Veronica Bennett married record producer Phil Spector and took his last name professionally. In 1969, they adopted a son, Donté Phillip. Two years later, Phil Spector surprised her with adopted twins, Louis and Gary, for Christmas.
Veronica Bennett alleged that her husband subjected her to years of psychological torment and sabotaged her career by not allowing her to perform. She said he surrounded the house with barbed wire and guard dogs and confiscated her shoes to prevent her from leaving. Veronica Bennett added that on the rare occasions when he let her go out alone, she had to drive with a life-size mannequin of Spector. She began drinking and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to escape the house. Veronica Bennett also recalled that Spector set up a gold casket with a glass top in the basement, promising that he would kill her and show her corpse if she ever left him.
In her 1990 memoir, Be My Baby, Veronica Bennett explained that she fled their mansion barefoot and without any possessions with her mother”s help in 1972. “I knew if I didn”t leave, I was going to die there,” she said. In their 1974 divorce agreement, Ronnie Spector forfeited all future record earnings after Phil Spector threatened to hire a hit man to end her own life. She received $25,000, a used car and $2,500 in monthly alimony for five years. In 1998, Veronica Bennett testified that her ex-husband frequently pointed a gun at her during their marriage and threatened to kill her unless she gave up custody of their children.
In 1982, Veronica Bennett married her second husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and adopted his last name. They lived in the Danbury, Connecticut area with their two sons, Austin Drew and Jason Charles.
Ronnie Spector died in Danburry on January 12, 2022 at the age of 78 from cancer.