Ronnie Spector (born Veronica Yvette Bennett on 10 August 1943 in New York, New York) is an American musician and was the lead singer of the girl group The Ronettes. She is known as the "original bad girl of rock and roll
Bennett was married to Phil Spector from 1968–1974, and took his name professionally. They adopted three children. Phil adopted Gary & Louis as a single parent after Ronnie left.
By her own account, he kept her a near-prisoner and limited her opportunities to pursue her musical ambitions. In her autobiography, she said that he would force her to watch the film Citizen Kane to remind her she would be nothing without him.
Spector's domineering attitude led to the dissolution of their marriage. Bennett was forbidden to speak to the Rolling Stones or tour with the Beatles, for fear of infidelity. Bennett claims Spector showed her a gold coffin with a glass top in his basement, promising to kill and display her should she leave him. During Spector's reclusive period in the late 1960s, he reportedly kept his wife locked inside their mansion. She claimed he also hid her shoes to dissuade her from walking outside, and kept the house dark because he didn't want anyone to see his balding head. Spector's son later claimed that he was kept locked in his room, with a pot in the corner to be used as a toilet. Ronnie Spector did leave the producer and filed for divorce in 1972. She wrote a book about her experiences, and said years later, "I can only say that when I left in the early 1970s, I knew that if I didn't leave at that time, I was going to die there" . She and Spector separated in 1973 and divorced one year later.
Her autobiography, Be My Baby, How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, co-authored by Vince Waldron, was published in 1989. In 2004, Onyx Books republished the book in a revised and updated mass market paperback edition in the USA.
She now lives in Connecticut with her second husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and their two sons, Austin Drew and Jason Charles. She also hosts an annual Christmas party at B. B. King's bar and grill in New York.
In early 1971, during Phil Spector's tenure as head of A&R at Apple Records, Ronnie recorded the single "Try Some, Buy Some"/"Tandoori Chicken"; released as Apple 33 in the UK, Apple 1832 in the U.S. The A-side of the single was written by George Harrison, and produced by both Harrison and Spector. Although the single was not a big hit, it had one lasting influence: when John Lennon recorded "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" later the same year, he asked Spector to reproduce the same mandolin-laden 'Wall of Sound' that he had created for "Try Some, Buy Some". Lennon liked the rockabilly B-side too, and is reported to have sung it at his birthday party in New York in October 1971.
In the early to mid 1970's, Ronnie briefly reformed the Ronettes (as Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes), with two new members (including Chip Fields, the mother of actress Kim Fields).
In 1986, Eddie Money had a big hit with "Take Me Home Tonight", on which Bennett was featured prominently as a guest vocalist, singing part of the chorus (where she is introduced by Money singing "just like Ronnie sang...") of "Be My Little Baby." She also sang a duet with Southside Johnny on "You Mean So Much To Me Baby". Billy Joel's 1976 hit "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" is a tribute to Bennett. Bennett herself covered it (1977), as did Bette Midler and other artists.
In 1999, she released the critically acclaimed album, She Talks to Rainbows, which featured 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 for The Misfits' album, Project 1950.
Bennett's most recent album Last of the Rock Stars (High Coin Records) has been released. A new single, "All I Want," accompanies the album. Keith Richards and Patti Smith are among Bennett's collaborators on the album. Bennett herself has co-produced two of the songs. In 2005 Bennett sang "Ode to L.A." with the Danish rock group The Raveonettes on their album Pretty in Black.
In 1998, Ronnie Spector and the other Ronettes sued Phil Spector for allegedly cheating them of royalties and licensing fees, winning a $3 million judgment; however, an appeals court later reversed the decision, upholding the terms of the group's 1963 contract as binding. In 2007, Ronnie Spector discussed her Ronettes' much-delayed entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "He wrote the Hall of Fame to tell them not to put me in. He did everything he could to stop me. He's bitter that I left him. He wants everyone to think he's the mastermind. He thought everything was because of him.
The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Ronnie Spector: Won't you be my Christmas baby? The Ronettes singer brings her love of the holidays to Minneapolis for a rock 'n' roll "Sleigh Ride" at the Dakota.(VARIETY)
Dec 17, 2010; Byline: JON BREAM; STAFF WRITER Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ronnie Spector starts thinking about Christmas in September. She...