Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ronnie Spector was the voice of all voices, and the great survivor of music

ROni Spector has passed away at the age of 78, but his voice will continue to be heard as long as we have music recorded and a way to play it. The lead singer of The Ronettes, she delivered the unforgettable vibrato to her 1963 single “Be My Baby” before marrying the song’s producer, Phil Spector. He was a cruel, cruel and jealous abuser, keeping her away from the world and forbidding her from performing. After escaping in 1972, Ronnie was encouraged by several music icons whom he influenced and inspired to return to singing. “So that’s what I did,” she said Vice President in 2016. “I went back, because I had people like Keith Richards and John Lennon and Billy Joel and David Bowie – even Springsteen – give me ‘Ronnie, you have the voice of all voices.'”

Born on August 10, 1943, in Spanish Harlem, New York, Veronica Yvette Bennett was surrounded by the Spector family and music. His mother had six sisters, all hairdressers, who would help create and maintain The Ronettes’ signature giant beehives years later. On Saturday nights, their extended family would gather at Spector’s grandmother’s house, and the children would sing. “By the time I was eight,” Spector recalled in his 2004 memoir be my Baby, “I was already working on full numbers for our family’s little weekend show.”

As a teenager, Spector formed a group with his sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Previously known as The Darling Sisters, they were abbreviated Ronnie and the Relatives before settling on The Ronettes. When she released a pair of singles that failed to chart, Estelle Bennett called on producer Phil Spector, who had enjoyed success with fellow girl group The Crystals, and persuaded him to give her an audition. When the Ronettes began singing “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” for her, the producer jumped out of his seat at the piano and shouted: “That’s it! That’s the sound I was looking for!”

Ronette signed to Phils Records in March 1963, and traveled to Hollywood in July to record “Be My Baby” at Gold Star Studios. A quintessential example of Phil Spector’s intense and dramatic “Wall of Sound” production style, the song is considered one of the best ever recorded. After its release that August, Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson heard the song while driving. “I had to pull over to the side of the road – it blew my mind,” Wilson recounts the new York Times in 2013. “This is the biggest record ever. No one will ever climb it. ,

Riding on the success of “Be My Baby”, The Ronettes released a string of follow-up hits including “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain”. In January 1964 he flew to London to begin his first UK tour, with The Rolling Stones as his supporting act. Spector had a brief romance with guitarist Keith Richards, who recounted their time together in his 2010 memoir life: “The first time I went to heaven was when I woke up with Ronnie (later Spector!) Bennett was sleeping with a smile on his face. We were kids. Nothing gets better than that.”

For Spector, it was going to be a lot worse. He had been having an on-off affair with Phil Spector since they met in 1963, not realizing they were married, and after the producer divorced his wife, Annette Merar, in 1965. The couple bought a huge Beverly Hills mansion to live in. They married on April 14, 1968, and the next morning Spector was awakened to the sound of workers building a barbed wire fence around their property. Soon, there were bars on all the windows, surveillance intercoms were installed in all the rooms and 10-foot-high electrified doorways in the front. Only Ronnie was allowed to watch on television Impossible Goal, On the rare occasions Ronnie was allowed to leave campus without her husband, she had to accompany him with a life-size dummy, with a cigarette hanging from her lip, that would sit next to her in the car. In the mansion’s basement, Phil sets up a solid gold coffin with a glass top, threatening Ronnie that he will kill him if he ever leaves her and displaying his corpse there.

After suffering years of this strange mental and physical pain, Ronnie finally managed to break free in June 1972 and ran barefoot into the night, with Phil taking off all his shoes. Their divorce lasted until 1974, at which time Ronnie forfeited custody of their adopted children, as well as all future record earnings, when Phil threatened to hire a hitman to kill her.

Ronnie Spector performing in 2008

(Matt Carr/Getty Images)

Finally freed from her ex-husband’s control, Spector finds a way to go back to the music business without him. In 1976, Billy Joel released “Say Goodbye to Hollywood”, a song directly inspired by “Be My Baby”, on which he imitated his famous voice. She returned the compliment by covering her track with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and the following year had a hit with it. In the eighties, she released a couple of solo albums. siren And unfinished business, After a two-decade hiatus, she returned to recording in 2006 with her famous album The Last of the Rock Stars, which featured guest appearances from friends and fans including Keith Richards, Patti Smith, and Yes Yes Yes’s Nick Ziner. His last album, 2016’s english heart, met for the first time in the sixties and covered their musical journey covering songs by visiting British artists.

The Ronettes were asked to induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, with Keith Richards taking himself back to that dominant era. He recalled being backstage one night on that tour in 1964 and hearing voices from his dressing room. “As I walk down the ladder, I hear this lovely little chant set up by Nedra and Estelle, and realize I’m listening to The Ronettes, and then that pure, pure voice at the top ‘Be My Baby’ is singing,” Richards said, offering the perfect response to anyone who dares to downplay the importance of Ronnie Spector. “I found myself a commanding performance, and I realized, despite Jack Nietzsche’s beautiful arrangement, that he could sing his way through “Wall of Sound.” He didn’t need anything.”

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