Who was Ronnie Spector, what did she contribute to music?
Born Veronica Bennett, Ronnie Spector is a singer best known for her association with The Ronettes, in which she was grouped with her sister and cousin, and who recorded a number of major hits, including “Be My Baby,” “Walking in the Rain,” and (The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up.” For better or for worse, mostly the latter if one assumes her natural abilities would have resulted in commercial success anyway, Ronnie married Phil Spector, one of the most influential figures in the history of rock and roll, and a psychotic who tightly controlled his wife’s movements and activities both out of fear of infidelity and out of a need to shape her career according to his image. Phil Spector, of course, is best known for developing “the wall of sound” – in effect, the use of large orchestral arrangements to enhance rock songs like The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.” He is also well-known for the 2003 murder of his girlfriend, Lana Clarkson. He is currently imprisoned for second-degree murder.
Ronnie Spector would eventually successfully escape captivity and divorce Phil. While she pursued a solo career, the Ronettes’ having broken up in 1967, her marriage to Phil the following year meant a long hiatus for her recording career and she was never able to regain her position in the world of pop music, although she remains popular in the music industry, recording songs with bands like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and Eddie Money, as well as being the inspiration for Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” which is on his Turnstiles album. While she was never able to sustain a successful solo career, her vocal talents helped ensure The Ronettes induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
In addition to her relationship with Phil Spector, Ronnie was also involved early in her career with Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones, who wrote fondly about her and their time together in his memoir, Life.
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