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The Ronettes were a 1960s girl group from New York Citymarker, best known for their work with producer Phil Spector. The group consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (a.k.a. Ronnie Spector); her sister, Estelle Bennett; and their cousin Nedra Talley. They reached the peak of their success after releasing Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica in 1964. Some of the groups most famous songs include "Be My Baby," "Baby, I Love You," " Breakin' Up", and "(Walking) In the Rain."

The group's career

Sisters Estelle (1941-2009) and Veronica Bennett (born 1943), and their cousin Nedra Talley (born 1946), began singing together as teenagers Washington Heights, Manhattanmarker. The three of them grew up listening to rock and pop; Ronnie especially liked Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers while Nedra enjoyed Rosemary Clooney. At a young age, their grandmother would put the three of them in a room and encourage them to harmonize. They became proficient in songs such as “Goodnight Sweetheart” and “Red Red Robin.” Their grandmother entered them into a talent show at the Apollo Theatremarker in 1959 as The Darling Sisters which they won. Phillip Halikus, who was to become their manager, saw their potential and promoted the groups early appearances at hops and charity shows.

The Ronettes first showed up in 1961 during the twist era. They started off as dancers at Joey Dee’s Peppermint Loungeonmarker New York’s 45th Street, and one night while waiting in line to perform, the manager mistook them for a singing trio that had not arrived and were ushered on stage. After performing Ray Charles’ "What'd I Say", they became wildly popular and were signed to appear regularly for $10 a night. The Ronettes, then still The Darling Sisters, were also booked at the Miamimarker Peppermint Lounge, where they were spotted by disc jockey Murray the K who hired them as Murray the K's dancing girls for his Brooklyn Fox Shows. They also were hired for Clay Cole's "Twist-o-rama" tour during this period. Phillip Halikus was able to pick up a record deal with Colpix through Stu Phillips. The groups first four singles had little success. They released their first single during the summer of 1961, "I want a Boy", with their new Colpix given name, Ronnie and the Relatives. Their next single with Colpix had the girls listed as The Ronettes and was titled "I'm on a Wagon" but went unreleased. That same year they also released a song called "Good Girls" arranged by Bert Keyes, and it showed their developing sound and growing maturity. They also worked as backing singers for Bobby Rydell, Del Shannon, and Joey Dee. After being renamed The Ronettes, they issued several more singles with Colpix and recorded an album, unissued at the time, but had little early commercial success.

In 1963 they came to the attention of producer Phil Spector, who was looking for a new girl group to assume The Crystals' mantle. He was taken with Ronnie's voice and style, and signed The Ronettes to his Philles label. Spector initially wanted to sign Ronnie Bennett as a solo artist, but when the three girls refused to be broken up, Spector signed them all. The Ronettes started off as backup singers to other Spector productions such as Bob B. Soxx, Blue Jeans, and Darlene Love. As Spector's new protégées, they had the image of the first “bad girls of rock and roll” with beehive hairdos, heavy eyeliner, and tight skirts. Their songs were addressed directly to their subjects giving them a more seductive manner, using lyrics such as “I love you” instead of “I love him.”

Their first Philles single was "Be My Baby," co-written by Spector with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and arranged and produced by Spector. Phil Spector produced “Be My Baby” integrating castanets, maracas, and Hal Blaine drum work into his "Wall of Sound" technique. It became a worldwide hit, reaching #2 on the U.S. pop chart, #4 on the R&B chart, and #4 on the UK chart and sold over 2 million copies. Brian Wilson, leader and songwriter of the Beach Boys, claims that “Be My Baby” is “my all-time favorite song. . . . . It blew my mind.” and wrote “Don’t Worry Baby” for the Ronettes as a tribute. Phil Spector rejected the songs for the Ronettes however, and the Beach Boys ended it recording it and it ended up as a hit reaching 24 on the US hot 100 In 1964 Spector began managing the group as well as being their producer. After their initial successful single, none of the Ronettes’ other singles ever made it into the top 20 in the US, but from September 1963 through December 1964, the Ronettes placed five singles in the Top 40.

The follow-up, "Baby, I Love You," had an even denser arrangement, featuring Leon Russell on piano and backing vocals from Darlene Love and Cher, among others. It was slightly less successful, reaching #24 in the United States and #11 in the United Kingdom. On Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You” Christmas album, The Ronettes recorded “Sleigh Ride”, “I Saw Mommy kissing Santa,” and “Frosty the Snowman”.

Early in 1964 The Ronettes toured England with The Rolling Stones and were introduced to The Beatles. They continued to have hits with "The Best Part of Breaking Up" (#39 U.S., #43 UK), "Do I Love You?" (#34 U.S., #35 UK), and "(Walking) In the Rain" (#23 U.S.), which won a Grammy for Best Sound Effects, the only Grammy Spector ever received. However, their album "Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica" only reached #96, and other singles were less successful; musical tastes had moved beyond the girl group sound, and the Ronettes were unable to maintain their relevance. “I wish I never saw the Sunshine” was one of the final songs that Spector produced for the Ronettes and was never released as his attention was turned to his productions for Tina Turner in 1966. Phil Spector was very possessive of The Ronettes, especially towards Ronnie. In 1966 when the Ronettes were set to open for the Beatles on tour, Spector made Ronnie stay at home while a cousin took her place on the tour instead. Jeff Barry produced the last song of the Ronettes under the Philles label, “I can Hear Music”. After the success of the Ike & Tina Turner song “River deep-Mountain High”, Spector soon shut down the Philles label and the Ronettes disbanded. Their influence on music was apparent however, as stars such as Billy Joel (who wrote “say goodbye to Hollywood”)and Bruce Springstein both cite Ronnie Bennett as an influence.

Later events

Nedra Talley married a New York City radio station programming director Scott Ross while Estelle Bennett had married road manager Joe Dong. In 1968, Ronnie Bennett married Phil Spector and retired from performance for several years under his oppressing control. In 1971, under Spector's direction, Ronnie recorded "Try Some, Buy Some" for the Beatles' Apple label. It became a minor hit, reaching #77 in the spring of 1971.

In 1973, as she and Spector were about to divorce, she returned to performing at Richard Nader's "Rock and Roll Revival" show at Madison Square Gardenmarker. Her new version of The Ronettes at that time included Denise Edwards and Chip Fields. During this time, the group issued two singles on the Buddha label. Ronnie would later record and perform as a solo act, scoring a Top 10 hit with Eddie Money in 1986, "Take Me Home Tonight".

In 1988, the original Ronettes sued Spector for nonpayment of royalties. In 2001, a New York court announced a verdict in favor of The Ronettes, ordering Spector to pay nearly three million dollars in back royalties; however, the judgment was later overturned on appeal.

Awards and recognition

The Ronettes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.

It was believed that Phil Spector, in his capacity as a member of the Board of Governors, deliberately prevented The Ronettes (and Darlene Love) from being nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker, although they had been eligible for a considerable period. The alleged reasons included the acrimonious divorce of Ronnie and Spector, in addition to the group having unsuccessfully sued Spector for back royalties. While Spector was awaiting trial on a murder charge and out on $1 million bail, the Ronettes were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a March 12, 2007, ceremony held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotelmarker in New York City. Keith Richards, a self-confessed longtime fan, inducted the trio. Ronnie Bennett (Spector) and Nedra Talley performed "Baby I Love You," "(Walking) In the Rain," and "Be My Baby." Estelle Bennett was present to accept her award but chose not to perform.

Discography

Singles

Year Title Chart Positions
U.S. Hot 100 UK Singles Chart
1961 "My Darling Angel" (May 111) - -
1961 "I Want a Boy" (Colpix 601) - -
1962 "Silhouettes" (1961) (May 114) - -
1962 "I'm Gonna Quit While I'm Ahead" (1961) (Colpix 646) - -
1962 "The Memory" (1961) (May 138) - -
1963 "Be My Baby" (Philles 116) 2 4
1963 "Baby, I Love You" (Philles 118) 24 11
1964 " Breakin' Up" (Philles 120) 39 43
1964 "Do I Love You?" (Philles 121) 34 35
1964 "(Walking) In The Rain" (Philles 123) 23 -
1965 "Born To Be Together" (Philles 126) 52 -
1965 "Is This What I Get For Loving You?" (Philles 128) 75 -
1965 "He Did It" (1961) (Dimension 1046) - -
1966 "I Can Hear Music" (Philles 133) 100 -
1969 "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered!" (A&M 1040) - -
1973 "Go Out and Get It" (Buddha 384) - -
1974 "I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine" (Buddha 408) - -
1976 "Paradise" (Warner/Spector 409) - -


Albums



Compilations

  • 1963 Today's Hits Phillies
  • 1965 The Ronettes: The Early Years Rhino
  • 1967 Cha Cha Cha Roper
  • 1975 Sing Their Greatest Hits Phil Spector
  • 1981 The Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 Masters
  • 1990 Greatest Hits Spectacular Sound
  • 1992 Best of the Ronettes EMI
  • 1992 The Best of the Ronettes ABKCO
  • 2005 Ronettes Featuring Veronica EMI Gold
  • 2005 Silhouettes Collectables
  • The Complete Colpix & Buddha Sessions Sequel


Pop references



  • Ronnie Spector accompanied Eddie Money on the 1986 hit song "Take Me Home Tonight". She sang the title line from "Be My Baby" and is also name-checked in the song's lyrics.


  • Austin, Texasmarker pop band The Sour Notes have been known to cover The Ronettes' song 'When I Saw You' during live performance and cite them as a major influence.




  • In an interview, the Danish band The Raveonettes stated that their name is "a complete direct reference to The Ronettes and Buddy Holly Rave On!." They invited Ronnie Spector to sing with them on their third album Pretty in Black, on a song named Ode to L.A..


  • In the anime TV series, Monster; the character "The baby" is an adept fan of "Be my baby".


References

  1. The Ronettes
  2. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  3. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  4. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/ronettes
  5. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  6. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/ronettes
  7. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  8. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  9. allmusic ((( The Ronettes > Biography )))
  10. Rolling Stone. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theronettes/biography
  11. Rolling Stone. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theronettes/biography
  12. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  13. VH1. “The Ronettes”. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/ronettes/bio.jhtml
  14. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  15. Rolling Stone. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theronettes/biography
  16. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/ronettes
  17. VH1. “The Ronettes”. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/ronettes/bio.jhtml
  18. VH1. “The Ronettes”. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/ronettes/bio.jhtml
  19. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/ronettes
  20. allmusic ((( The Ronettes > Biography )))
  21. VH1. “The Ronettes”. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/ronettes/bio.jhtml
  22. Rolling Stone. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theronettes/biography
  23. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  24. VH1. “The Ronettes”. http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/ronettes/bio.jhtml
  25. Rolling Stone. “The Ronettes”. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/theronettes/biography
  26. Warner, J. “The Ronettes”. The Vocal Group. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/the_ronettes.html
  27. Interview with The Raveonettes, David Shankbone, Wikinews, October 16, 2007


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