Ronnie Spector, born Veronica Yvette Bennett (August 10, 1943 – January 12, 2022), was an American singer. She was the lead singer of the group The Ronettes, which was formed in 1957 with her older sister Estelle Bennett (1941-2009) and their niece Nedra Talley (°1946). Bennett fronted the group, while record producer Phil Spector produced most of their production. The two married in 1968 and separated in 1972.
Bennett was the main vocalist on the Ronettes' string of hits in the early to mid-1960s, including 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 started a solo career with the single So Young. From 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). Bennett also recorded the EP She Talks to Rainbows (1999). In 1986, she experienced a career revival when she was featured in Eddie Money's song Take Me Home Tonight.
Bennett has been referred to as the original 'bad girl of rock and roll'. In 1990 she published the 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.
Spector was 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, in 1957.
1963-1969: The Ronettes and Early Success
The Ronettes became a popular live attraction in the New York area in the early 1960s. Seeking a record deal, they were initially signed to Colpix Records and produced by Stu Phillips. After unsuccessfully releasing a few singles on Colpix, they were signed by Phil Spector to Philles Records. Their relationship with Spector brought 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 best singing group in the UK, after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. They supported and toured with The Beatles during their 1966 tour of the United States. Their last single I Can Hear Music on Philles Records was released in the fall of 1966. Instead of recording on the West Coast, The Ronettes returned to New York with producer Jeff Barry.
The Ronettes split in early 1967, after a European concert tour, including their performance at the Moonlight Lounge in Gelnhausen, Germany, where they entertained American military personnel.
Spector's 1960 recording You Came, You Saw, You Conquered, listed as The Ronettes featuring the Voice of Veronica, appeared in 1969 on Herb Alpert's A&M Records with Oh I Love You, an old Ronettes b-side, as a-side. Her vocals were used for the lead and backing vocals. Phil Spector kept many of the group's unreleased songs in the vault for years.
1970-1982: Solo Career and Siren
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 . The A-side was written by George Harrison and produced by both him and Spector. Although the single was not a major hit, the backing track was used two years later for Harrison's own version of the song