I’ve just returned from seeing RonnieSpector of the famed Ronettes in concert in Rahway,N.J. and I must say it was a combination of being interesting, different and disappointing all in one. I’ve seen Ronnie in person twice before performing with other groups and this is the first time I’ve seen her solo. The name of the concert is Beyond the Beehive referring to the sexy beehive hairdos she and her sister and cousin wore in the Ronettes in the sixties which I am still a fan of today.
The first time I saw Ronnie perform was at an oldies concert in the late seventies and then again about 18 years ago appearing with Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons fame. In tonite’s concert Ronnie read her entire autobiography from a manuscript only pausing to sing a song when it referred to a point in time in her reading. She also showed pictures of her with such rock ‘n’ roll stars as the Beatles, RollingStones, Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen and others and some videos on the screen while she read from her manuscript.
Ronnie was born Veronica Yvette Bennet in New York City in August 1943. Her mother was half black and half cherokee and her father was Irish. Ronnie traces her early beginnings while reading to forming the Ronettes with her sister and cousin using lots of hair spray and beehive hairdos.She traces her beginnings singing in New York’s Peppermint Lounge which featured Joey Dee and the Starlighters and eventually leading to her marriage to famed record producer Phil Spector who was an extremely abusive and controlling figure in her life and put her thru pure hell. He would keep her in a small apartment in his mansion and had guard dogs to keep her in and showed her a glass covered coffin in the basement saying if she ever left him he would kill her and put her on display for everyone to see her. He even hid her shoes so she wouldn’t run away. He wouldn’t let her have any friends and would threaten her constantly. It was her mother who helped her escape and she enrolled in a rehab just to have someone to talk to. Today Phil Spector is in jail serving a sentence for murder. At this point someone in the audience yelled out “Phil sucks,” to which Ronnie applauded.
While all this was interesting, I wanted to hear more songs not a reading interrupted by a song here and there. Ronnie explained that she couldn’t sing her signature song “Be My Baby” and a few others that were popular because Phil owned the rights to them. At that point several people in the audience yelled out’ “go for it” and “he’s in jail.” Ronnie then got up and started a few lines from “Be My Baby” and the audience stood up on their feet, but she stopped abruptly and said she couldn’t do it. I swear I heard her sing it on an oldies show on PBS just last year and when I saw her 20 years ago she sang it so I wonder.
Ronnie told how she went thru a horrible divorce lasting several years and sued Phil for roylties he never paid her to the tune of 2.5 million which she eventually won.
Today Ronnie is remarried and lives with a loving husband and her two kids. Her sister Estelle passed away in 2009. Like I mentioned although it was interesting, I would have preferred to hear more songs as she’s a great performer, still retains her clear voice and makes excellent eye contact with the audience. She’s very petite and quite busty and still very attractive with long thick flowing brown hair and thick bangs over her forehead. If I wanted to hear her autobiography I would buy one of those audio boooks.
I am enclosing a link to see Ronnie and her Ronettes in their prime appearing on Shindig a popular show in the 60″s singing “Be My Baby”. Check it out. 😉