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Ronettes

The Ronettes weren't the most commercially successful girl group, but their music was some of the most groundbreaking in the field, thanks to their association with the legendary Wall of Sound producer Phil Spector. Their biggest hit, "Be My Baby," is widely regarded as one of the crowning achievements of Spector's oeuvre, and of girl-group pop in general. In fact, many critics have deemed it one of the most supremely romantic records of the rock & roll era; Spector's production frames the song's yearning lyrics and Ronnie Bennett's sweetly sultry vocals in a sweeping, near-symphonic level of emotion. Even though the Ronettes never managed another hit as big as "Be My Baby," many of their subsequent singles boasted the same kind of creative synergy between Spector and Bennett. It apparently carried over into real life as well, since the two were married in 1968, not long after Bennett went solo. Unfortunately, the union was an unhappy one, as Spector soon turned reclusive and controlling, largely preventing her from recording (or even leaving the house). After their divorce, she recorded sporadically without much success, but became something of a female rock icon when she published her survivor's-tale autobiography.

The Ronettes were formed in the Washington Heights/Spanish Harlem area of New York City. Sisters Veronica (aka Ronnie) and Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley first started harmonizing together as teenagers in 1959, inspired by doo wop groups like Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and Little Anthony & the Imperials. First calling themselves the Darling Sisters, the trio also worked on their dance moves, and won the famed amateur talent contest at the Apollo Theater; afterward, they began formal vocal training. In 1961, they were standing in line to get into the Peppermint Lounge -- epicenter of the twist dance craze -- when a manager mistook them for an act he'd booked. They performed to great response, and were quickly hired as regulars. Later that year, they appeared in the film Twist Around the Clock, and danced in shows staged by disc jockey Murray the K. They also got a record deal with the Colpix label, issuing their debut single "I Want a Boy" as Ronnie & the Relatives that year. Follow-up singles credited the group as the Ronettes, including "I'm on the Wagon," "Silhouettes," and "Good Girls," but none were anything more than regionally popular.

The Ronettes caught their big break when they met Phil Spector, who saw in them talent he could mold to his specifications; he was already tiring of his association with the Crystals, substituting outside singer Darlene Love on several records credited to them. Spector signed the Ronettes to his Philles label, where they were given a more defined image than most female artists of the time. They were still sweet and feminine, to be sure, but they had hints of attitude -- they were photographed with tall hairdos, heavy eyeliner, and tight skirts. Moreover, their songs dared to address the objects of their affection directly ("I love you" as opposed to "I love him"), even -- on a subliminal level -- seductively. Spector lavished all his attention on his new protégées, collaborating on material with some of the top Brill Building songwriting teams. Their first Philles single was "Be My Baby," a tune Spector co-wrote with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich especially as a showcase for Ronnie Bennett. Right from the often-imitated drum kick that opened the song, "Be My Baby" announced itself as a pop classic; Spector's lush arrangement seemed to echo into infinity, while Bennett's sweet vulnerability captured the hearts of enough teenage male listeners to send the song to number two on the pop charts and number four R&B. It also became the all-time favorite record of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who was directly inspired to emulate Spector's arsenal of production innovations; he also penned "Don't Worry Baby" for the Ronettes in tribute, but when Spector refused the song, the Beach Boys recorded it themselves for a hit.

None of the Ronettes' other singles even managed to make the Top 20, but they continued to turn out high-quality work over the next two years. Their next hit, 1964's "Baby, I Love You," featured Leon Russell as the session pianist, as well as backup vocal support from Darlene Love and a young Cher. Subsequent singles like "(The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up," "Do I Love You?," "Walking in the Rain," and "Is This What I Get for Loving You?" still rank as all-time girl-group classics; "Walking in the Rain" went on to win a Grammy for Best Sound Effects, the only one Spector ever received. Meanwhile, Spector was testing the waters for Bennett as a solo artist; she recorded a song under the name Veronica, "So Young," which nonetheless included backup harmonies by the other two Ronettes (it was withdrawn not long after release).

With his attention consumed by Tina Turner in early 1966, Spector put the Ronettes on the back burner; one of his final sides with the group, the lovely "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine," was never even released. Jeff Barry produced the final Ronettes single for Philles, "I Can Hear Music," in late 1966. Shattered by the cool reception afforded his magnum opus, the Ike & Tina Turner single "River Deep-Mountain High," Spector soon shut down the Philles label, and the Ronettes disbanded. Spector left his wife to marry Bennett in 1968, and the two lived together in Spector's L.A. mansion. However, his behavior grew increasingly erratic and controlling. In spite of Ronnie's ambitions for a solo career, Spector took pains to ensure that she remained at home -- not just refusing to book recording sessions, but not even allowing her to leave the house without his permission. He became psychologically abusive, allegedly threatening to kill her, monitoring her phone calls, and forbidding her to read books or see friends. When the couple failed to conceive children, Spector adopted three -- the last two without even consulting his wife -- which ensured that she was kept busy at home. Even amid all of this, two singles made their way to release -- 1969's aptly titled "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered" (which was credited to the Ronettes Featuring the Voice of Veronica), and 1971's "Try Some, Buy Some," issued on the Beatles' Apple label.

Ronnie left her husband in 1973, and their divorce was finalized the following year; reportedly, Spector made a substantial alimony payment by sending Ronnie a truckload of dimes. Nonetheless, Ronnie kept his last name, and formed a new version of the Ronettes with Denise Edwards and Chip Fields; they recorded a couple of singles for Buddah over 1973-1974, but none charted. Ronnie Spector released several solo records during the late '70s without much success; she did return to the spotlight as a guest vocalist on rocker Eddie Money's Top Five hit "Take Me Home Tonight" in 1986. Two years later, on the heels of a "Be My Baby" revival in the film Dirty Dancing, the three original Ronettes sued Spector for nonpayment of royalties; the case dragged on for years and years. In 1990, Ronnie published her autobiography Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness; the book was a sensation thanks to its detailed account of her bizarre relationship with Spector, though she maintained that she had been genuinely in love with him at the start, and that he was never physically abusive to her. In late 2001, a New York court announced a verdict in favor of the Ronettes, ordering Spector to pay nearly three million dollars in back royalties; the judgment was later overturned on appeal, but part of the case was sent back to a lower court, renewing the group's hopes. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Best Of

1. Be My Baby

2. Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love

3. I Wonder

4. Baby I Love You

6. So Young

7. When I Saw You

8. Do I Love You

9. You Baby

11. Walking In The Rain

12. Born To Be Together

13. Is This What I Get For Loving You

14. Paradise

15. Here I Sit

16. I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine

17. Everything Under The Sun

18. You Came, You Saw, You Conquered

x

Track List: Be My Baby: The Very Best Of The Ronettes

2. Be My Baby

3. Baby, I Love You

4. (The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up

6. Do I Love You?

7. Walking In The Rain

8. I Wonder

9. When I Saw You

10. You Baby

11. Born To Be Together

12. Is This What I Get For Loving You?

13. Paradise

14. Here I Sit

15. I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine

16. Everything Under The Sun

18. You Came, You Saw, You Conquered

Comments

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Cant believe Cher sang backup
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elliecupcake 2 0 1 5
Be my
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I will make you happy baby mimi
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smickle50
Llplll)llll 'll ll)llpllllll l l 'lllllp)ll 'lll)l)lllll l p l l l 'lllll)lllll l l ) l l l l p 'l 'll 'll l))llpl 'll l pplll p l 'l 'll ppl 'll lll ppllplll pp l))llpl plpllllpp ppl pp l))llpl llpll 'll 'l llpl 'l 'll l ppl lllpll 'lp p llpl ppllplll ppllplll l ppl l pp lllpll p 'll l 'l lul 'll l)llplplll 'll llllllllplll l 'll llpl 'll l))llpl l ppllp ppl pp 'll 'l 'll l pp 'll 'l 'l ppllllllllpl l l l p p ppl 'll lllp 'll lplllllll lllp lpllllllllll l l l l l l 'll lll 'll p 'llllp 'll ll pp l)llplpp p ' s l ppl 'll
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Im Gona Wish oA star...reall y Rite Now i outsie looking up
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Ronnie married Phil !! From what I heard on court TV dude was a hot mess
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Lovely������
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Love allways theyr voices so fragil like cristal . The Ronettes give great memory from New York City 1964 so nostalgic time .
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LIKE !!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
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they were the prettiest groups of their time!!!
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cdokken7
A classic!!! Love Doo Wop!!
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dklein736
Times were a lot simpler back then. Good time memories!!!
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pambowgren
I love you so much!!!!
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Love you Ronnie, great voice.
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Murray The K's Dancing Girls from the Brooklyn Fox Theatre!! The good old days when music was music!!
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Opening scene of Dirty Dancing.
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Saw Ronnie Spector sing last year on TV ,DAM she still has it!!!
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I absolutely love them! The Ronettes and the Shangri-las are my fav girl bands!
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The ronettes we're the best of the grassroots of 1960 era they were the best group.
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Heard this song in Nine Months.
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ronettes - the best - go girls
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mike3345mike
All baby I love you#!!
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Nice
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Wow every time hear this song me and my mama I miss u
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Memories!
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kbford7
To netted
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Your songs are the best I hope you never stop writing songs
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Tell him that Ive alwayz. So little hrs but the ones he did seemed like a lifetime. It was Always that on one . My love never gave up on US
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Im already.. lil leenda. An u is where I am . Here in cali see u wen the day cruzs pn in
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����love this song
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MURRAY the K's DANCING GIRLS .... A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE..... WHAT AN EASY RIDE
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Hi
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corinne.ross 5 5
Motown is the greatest music ever to dance & sing along to!
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dslagle0
great music
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Love them
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love the Ronettes
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Love the Ronettes. Be My Baby, you bet.
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Nice
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Tommygirl loves this song I was in Jr high
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Sorry,it should be spelled "Murray the K"
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Who remembers "MURRY the K" he referred to the Ronettes as his Dancing Girls, Ahhh the memories...
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This $tu££
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t_heath
The Ronettes made some great music.....
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Funny, Phil Spector was convicted for murder a few years ago.
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Firme
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''When,YOUR Heart...Find s that ONE True LOVE--it's Never...(eve r ) Too Late''

Yes. HE, had GIVEN Her a Love...that SHE- had Never KNOWN Existed

***As In...His Arms, is where--SHE really came--ALIVE* * *

HER heart...is only HIS--Now :-)(-:
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So Young tsk tsk. Born too late ! LOL
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mazouharis
Boy this was when the voice quality had to be as good or better than the instrumental
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be my baby
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You ain't gonna believe this but I thought Ronnie Spector was a fella just like Ronnie Dove. Man I gotta take sex education all over.
Show more

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