Ronettes, The , the best remembered of the early 1960s “girl groups”. Membership: Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett (b. N.Y., Aug. 10, 1943); Estelle Bennett (b. N.Y., July 22, 1944); Nedra Talley (b. N.Y., Jan. 27, 1946).
Formed in N.Y. in 1958 as the dance act The Dolly Sisters, the group comprised sisters Estelle and Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley. Performing as resident dancers at the Peppermint Lounge in N.Y. in 1961, the group signed with Don Kirshner’s Colpix label, initially recording as Ronnie and The Relatives. Becoming The Ronettes in 1962, they recorded several singles and an album’s worth of material released in 1965. They attracted the attention of producer Phil Spector, who signed them to his Philles label. In 1963, they scored a smash pop, R&B and British hit with “Be My Baby,” written by Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich. Through 1964 they achieved major pop hits with “Baby I Love,” written by Spector, Barry, and Greenwich, and “Walking in the Rain,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and moderate pop hits with “Do I Love You?” and “(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up.” They achieved their last (minor) hit in late 1966 as The Ronettes Featuring Veronica with “I Can Hear Music,” a major hit for The Beach Boys in 1969.
The Ronettes continued to record for Philles Records with only minor success through 1966, when they broke up. In 1968, Ronnie Bennett married Phil Spector and she spent the next four years with him ensconced in his Beverly Hills mansion. In 1969, he unsuccessfully attempted to revive The Ronettes’ career on A& Records with “You Came, You Saw, You Conquered.” On her own, Ronnie Spector managed a minor hit with George Harrison’s “Try Some, Buy Some” on Apple Records in 1971. In 1973, she separated from Spector and formed a new edition of The Ronettes that lasted three years and recorded two unsuccessful singles for Buddah Records. Late 1970s releases for Ronnie Spector included 1976’s “Paradise,” written by Phil Spector and Harry Nilsson and produced by Spector, and 1977’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” written by Billy Joel and produced by “Miami” Steven Van Zandt. In 1980, she recorded Siren for Genya Ravan’s N.Y.–based Polish Records, and the album included The Ramones’ “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” and “Happy Birthday, Rock and Roll,” dedicated to Phil Spector. In 1986 she sang the lead line from “Be My Baby” behind Eddie Money’s smash pop hit “Take Me Home Tonight.” Ronnie Spector recorded Unfinished Business for Columbia Records in 1987, and Harmony Books published her book Be My Baby in 1990.
the ronettes:Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes (1964); The Ronettes Featuring Veronica (1965); The Early Years, 1961–62 (1965). RONNIE SPECTOR: Siren (1980); Unfinished Business (1987).
R. Spector with V. Waldron, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness, Or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette (N.Y., 1990).