Birthday: August 10, 1943
Age: 77 Years, 77 Year Old Females
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Veronica Yvette Bennett, Ronnie Spector Bad Girl of Rock and Roll
Born in: East Harlem, New York City, New York
Famous as: Singer
Height: 5'1" (155 cm), 5'1" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Jonathan Greenfield (m. 1982), Phil Spector (m. 1968–1974)
father: Louis Bennett
mother: Beatrice Bennett
siblings: Estelle Bennett
children: Austin Drew Greenfield, Donte Phillip Spector, Gary Phillip Spector, Jason Charles Greenfield, Louis Phillip Spector
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
Ronnie Spector is a well-known American rock-and-roll singer of the early 1960s and 1970s, who gained the reputation of being “the original bad girl of rock ‘n’ roll.” Ronnie joined her sister and cousin to form the popular girl band ‘Darling Sisters,’ which later changed its name to ‘The Ronettes.’ After their initial days of struggle, they finally made it big when they signed a deal with Phil Spector and his record label. Their first success came with the song ‘Baby, I Love You,’ and soon, their tracks ‘Is This What I Get for Loving You?’ and ‘Born to be Together’ were among the top 100 hits on the music charts. The group toured Europe, where they performed with ‘The Beatles’ and the ‘The Rolling Stones.’ However, the career of Phil Spector took a negative turn and the band dissolved in the late 1960s. Ronnie married Phil Spector and went through a failed marriage for six years, till she ran away and filed for divorce. She later married Jonathan Greenfield and currently lives with him in Danbury, Connecticut. Ronnie continues to perform as a solo artist and is a legend of her time.
Childhood & Early Life
Ronnie Spector was born Veronica Yvette Bennett, on August 10, 1943, in East Harlem, New York City, New York, US. Her father was of Irish–American descent and her mother was of African–American/Cherokee descent. She has a sister named Estelle Bennett, with whom she grew up in Spanish Harlem. Ronnie and Estelle were raised by their mother, as their father had abandoned the family when the children were still very young.
Ronnie belonged to a family that had music flowing in its blood. Her cousin sister, Nedra Tally Ross, and Estelle joined her to form their own band, known as the ‘Darling Sisters.’ The band later changed its name and came to be known as ‘The Ronettes.’
The band became the center of attention in their neighborhood. They soon got the opportunity to perform at the ‘Apollo Theater’ and signed a deal with ‘Colpix Records.’ They released a few singles with the label but failed to make their mark in the music industry. They continued to perform in local clubs, till they got steady jobs as dancers at the ‘Peppermint Lounge’ on 46th Street.
The girls were still underage when they were discovered by DJ Murray the K and given a regular contract to perform weekly at the ‘Brooklyn Fox Theatre’s “rock ‘n’ roll revue.”
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Her career received a boost in the mid-1960s, when ‘The Ronettes’ signed a deal with Phil Spector and his record label, ‘Philles Records.’ Their first success came with the songs ‘Baby, I Love You’, ‘Be My Baby,’ and ‘The Best Part of Breaking Up.’ By 1965, their tracks ‘Is This What I Get for Loving You?’ and ‘Born to be Together’ were among the top 100 hits on the music charts. Ronnie’s voice was ideally suited to Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ effect that was in vogue at that time.
In the latter half of the 1960s, the group toured all over Europe, where they performed with ‘The Beatles’ and ‘The Rolling Stones.’ They recorded a number of popular songs with ‘Philles Records,’ including their last song, ‘I Can Hear Music.’ The group eventually broke up in 1967, following a string of failures and a negative turn of events in Phil’s career.
By then, Ronnie had gained the reputation of being “the original bad girl of rock ‘n’ roll,” and she and her band members had created their own style with their short, black skirts and mascara. The group reunited in 2007 for the induction into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.’
After her band broke up, Ronnie went solo with the single ‘Try Some, Buy Some.’ She worked with George Harrison and John Lennon but failed to produce any major hits. In the mid-1970s, she briefly formed a new ‘The Ronettes’ with Chip Fields and Dian Linton. However, their music did not match up to the works of the original band.
During this period, she sang the duet ‘You Mean So Much to Me’ with ‘Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes,’ a band that was part of their debut album. She continued to make appearances with the band to keep up with mainstream music.
Ronnie recorded her first solo album, ‘Siren,’ in 1980. This paved her way to work with the punk-rock star Joey Ramone and his band. By 1986, she had regained her popularity and was featured on Eddie Money’s ‘Top 5 Hit’ list, with her song ‘Take Me Home Tonight,’ which became one of the top videos on ‘MTV’ that year.
She released her album ‘She Talks to Rainbows’ in 1999. It was produced and promoted by Joey Ramone. She also performed at the ‘BB King Blues Club & Grill’ in New York City. She also provided backing vocals for the album ‘Project 1950’ by the ‘Misfits.’
Her album ‘Last of the Rock Stars’ was released by ‘Bad Girl Sounds’ in 2006. This was followed by her Christmas EP that featured five new Christmas songs, in 2010. She also performed Amy Winehouse’s songs as a tribute, after Amy’s death, and for the benefit of the Daytop Village de-addiction centers.
In 2016, her album ‘English Heart,’ which was her version of the songs of bands such as ‘The Beatles,’ ‘The Rolling Stones,’ and the ‘Bee Gees,’ peaked at number six on the ‘Billboard Top Heatseekers’ chart. Lately, in August 2017, ‘People’ magazine featured her and ‘The Ronettes,’ with their new single, ‘Love Power,’ produced by Narada Michael Walden. Thus, her music career has traveled a full circle.
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Her work with ‘The Ronettes’ includes ‘The Ronettes Featuring Veronica’ (1961), ‘Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica’ (1965), volumes 1 and 2 of ‘The Ronettes Greatest Hits’ (1981), and ‘The Best of the Ronettes’ (1992).
As a solo artist, she has recorded the albums ‘Siren’ (1987), ‘Unfinished Business’ (1987), ‘She Talks to Rainbows’ (1999), ‘Something’s Gonna Happen’ (2003), ‘Last of the Rock Stars’ (2006), and ‘English Heart’ (2016).
Awards & Achievements
Her contribution to American popular music was recognized by her induction into the ‘Vocal Group Hall of Fame’ in 2004.
‘The Ronettes’ were inducted into the ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’ in 2007.
Personal Life & Legacy
Ronnie married songwriter and record producer Phil Spector in 1968. The couple adopted three children, Donté, Louis, and Gary Phillip. Spector had earlier launched Ronnie’s music career. However, Ronnie accused him of imprisoning her in their California mansion and tormenting her psychologically. During this period, she took refuge in drugs and even attempted suicide. Ultimately, she escaped from the mansion in 1972, with the help of her mother, and filed for divorce in 1974.
Ronnie later married Jonathan Greenfield, in 1982. They have two sons, Austin Drew and Jason Charles. The couple lives in Danbury, Connecticut.
Ronnie chose to maintain her surname as “Spector,” even after her second marriage.
In 1983, ‘The Ronettes’ sued Phil Spector for non-payment of royalties and won the case.
Ronnie has provided a glimpse of her tormented life with Phil Spector in her memoir, ‘Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness,’ which was published in 1990.