Ronnie Spector, born Veronica Bennett on August 10, 1943,
in New York, NY, became famous as a member of the Ronettes,
a girl group featuring her sister Estelle Bennett and
cousin Nedra Talley. Her powerful and unique voice was
a main strength of the band, as was their exotic and glamorous
look. The group began as dancers at the Peppermint Lounge
in New York and made a string of unsuccessful records
in the early '60s before hooking up with Phil Spector
in 1963 and releasing great songs and smash hits like
"Be My Baby," "Walking in the Rain,"
"Do I Love You," and "I Can Hear Music."
Soon after they began recording with him, Ronnie fell
in love with Spector and they were married in 1968. The
Ronettes' career was stalled at this point, and at Phil's
insistence Ronnie gave up her musical aspirations and
spent her time locked away in Spector's mansion, releasing
only "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered" in 1969
for A&M and "Try Some Buy Some" for Apple
in 1971. The song was written by George Harrison and featured
all four Beatles backing her up but it wasn't a hit. The
dissolution of bad marriage in the early '70s left Ronnie
free to pursue singing again. She put together a new edition
of the Ronettes with Denise Edwards and Chip Fields and
recorded a couple of singles, "Lover Lover"
in 1973 and "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine"
in 1974, for Buddah. The records did nothing on the charts
and she soon broke up the new Ronettes and went solo.
After a failed disco single, Ronnie got help from some
heavyweights on her next effort. 1976's "Say Goodbye
to Hollywood" was written by Billy Joel and the backing
band was noted Phil Spector devotee Bruce Springsteen
and his E Street Band. Despite the pedigree and the fact
that it was a great song, it didn't make much of a commercial
impression and Ronnie subsequently spent time as a backing
vocalist for Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes.
Her next single was 1978's "It's a Heartache"
and it was a huge hit. For Bonnie Tyler, that is, not
Ronnie. Her first solo album, Siren, was released in 1980
and featured a new wave sound and production by former
girl-group singer Genya Ravan. As with everything she
had released since the glory days of the Ronettes, it
was not a hit.
finally tasted some chart success in 1986 with Take
Me Home Tonight, a duet with Eddie Money, and managed
to land a record deal with Columbia. Unfinished Business
was released in 1987 and featured songs by Diane Warren,
Desmond Child, and Gregory Abbott and appearances by Bangle
Susanna Hoffs, Paul Schaffer, and Eddie Money. She made
a concerted effort to push the record (starring in an
HBO concert, appearing at the American Music Awards, singing
at a Radio City Music Hall Christmas show) but it never
took off. In 1988 she was reduced to being a member of
the Dirty Dancing oldies concert tour. In 1990 she published
her autobiography Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara,
Miniskirts and Madness. It was a fascinating tale of a
wild and at times harrowing life and sparked new interest
in Ronnie. She didn't release any records in the 1990s
but appeared on many compilations and soundtracks, including
the theme song to Roseanne's cartoon, Little Rosey, a
duet with fellow Spector survivor Darlene Love on A Very
Special Christmas, Vol. 2, and the cast album of Tim Rice's
1999 Ronnie returned to the studio to record new solo
material. Creation in the U.K. and Kill Rock Stars in
the U.S. released the Joey Ramone-produced She Talks to
Rainbows EP to loads of critical acclaim. Featured on
the disc were versions of Johnny Thunders' beautiful ballad
"You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" and
the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby," which Brian
Wilson had originally written for her. Ronnie's voice
was still strong, weathered by time and experience, but
still that marvelous instrument that is unmistakably hers
alone. She spends her time occasionally performing and
mostly living the quiet life in Connecticut with her husband
and two sons.