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Ronnie Spector - The Death of a Queen

By Marc Zisman |

The woman who turned rock'n'roll and pop music on its head with her abusive husband Phil Spector has died at the age of 78...

More than an essential voice in 20th-century music history, Veronica Yvette Bennett aka Ronnie Spector was a pop culture icon. The most charismatic goddess of the sixties girl groups passed away on January 12th 2022, after a battle with cancer. In the veins of the ultimate bad girl of Spanish Harlem flowed the most explosive of cocktails, mixing African-American, Irish and Cherokee blood! A mixture that fascinated The Beatles and The Stones, who still idolize the New Yorker born August 10th, 1943. With her sister Estelle Bennett (who died in 2009) and her cousin Nedra Talley, she formed the Ronettes, founders of the canons of pop and rock at the dawn of the 60s. A trio just out of adolescence, wrapped in ultra-tight and ultra-short dresses, with eyes plastered with mascara and serving XXL sixties hair. Ronnie and her Ronettes shone with the power of a thousand fires in their love songs, sculpted in the form of millimetric and powerful pop symphonies, floating on an electric cloud concocted by a certain Phil Spector. This would become the legendary Wall of Sound created by this revolutionary young producer. In fact a very dense sound of multiple sound layers and reverberations. The producer played the same score on the electric and acoustic guitar dozens of times in unison, adding many arrangements and recording everything in an echo chamber, giving the aura of the music unprecedented power.

Masterpiece of the partnership between the Ronettes and Phil Spector, Be My Baby shook the world. " This is the greatest pop song of all time! " shouted Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Baby, I Love You, The Best Part of Breakin' Up, Do I Love You? and others like Walking in the Rain were to follow. In 1968, Phil married his muse Ronnie to better control her and even imprisoned her in his Californian home. She escaped, helped by her mother, and divorced the mentally ill man - who became the killer of a Z-list actress in 2003. He later died behind bars in a Californian prison in Stockton in January 2021...

In 1973, Ronnie reformed the Ronettes with two new members, without great success, and went on pick up work here and there during the seventies, in particular with Southside Johnny, and then the E Street Band of Bruce Springsteen in 1977. Together they released a stunning cover of Say Goodbye To Hollywood by Billy Joel.

The following decade, Ronnie recorded two solo albums, Siren in 1980 and Unfinished Business in 1987. Without rediscovering the success of her golden age, she still remained the idol of many artists, with Amy Winehouse in the lead, who took on a similar persona of the rock'n'roll girl. " Amy was great for me because she made me feel that what I had done really mattered ", she will say at the death of her young disciple, whose hit Back to Black she will go on to cover…