Only a few artists in history have been capable of defining an entire era in pop music. Ronnie Spector is one of those artists: the embodiment of the heart, soul, and passion of female rock and roll in the 1960s. And to this day, no one has ever surpassed Ronnie's powerful trademark vocals, her gutsy attitude, or her innocent but knowing sexuality. For these qualities and more, Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in March 2007.
Ronnie Spector's latest CD, ‘Ronnie Spector's Best Christmas Ever’, released this winter (domestically, November 9, 2010), features five rare holiday gems destined to become contemporary classics. Imbued with Ronnie's deeply felt and vividly recounted holiday memories from her childhood in New York City. “These songs recapture the original feelings of Christmas I had growing up,” Spector says. “The minute I got into that studio I knew these were going to be my new Christmas hits.” As the New York Times has observed ‘It's hard to think of a more appealing angel to welcome the season than Ms. Spector.”
Ronnie Spector was born and raised in upper Manhattan. She formed the Ronettes while in her teens and released her first records in 1961 on the Colpix label. One of those early songs was “You Bet I Would,” co-written by Carole King. Another was the rocking “He Did It,” written by Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley - which Ronnie still performs today.
The Ronettes were also professional singers and dancers at New York's Peppermint Lounge. There they were discovered by legendary disc jockey “Murray the K” (Murray Kaufman), who promptly hired them as dancers for his Brooklyn Fox Theater rock and roll revues.
Beginning in 1963, Ronnie Spector - as lead singer of the ultimate girl group, The Ronettes - recorded a long string of classic pop hits: powerful, poignant teen anthems like the Grammy Award-winning “Walking in the Rain,” “Do I Love You,” “Baby I Love You,” “The Best Part of Breaking Up,” “I Can Hear Music,” and the international Number One smash “Be My Baby.” These records are among the best-loved and most-emulated recordings in the history of rock and roll.
“There were girl group hits before the Ronettes,” wrote Canadian critic Carl Wilson in a 2003 feature for the Toronto Globe & Mail. “But Ronnie Spector was the first woman in rock to provoke anything like the hysteria that Elvis had caused, which was soon to engulf the Beatles.”
As the Number One pop group in England, Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes headlined over acts like the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds. The Beatles personally requested that the Ronettes join their final U.S. tour in August 1966; later that year, at Basin Street East, a talented young comedian named Richard Pryor was the opening act for the Ronettes' final live performance.
In 1970, Ronnie sang on Jimi Hendrix's recording of “Earth Blues”.
In 1971, Ronnie Spector released her Apple Records debut single, “Try Some, Buy Some” - written and produced by George Harrison, with a backing band that included George, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr.
In 1976, Billy Joel wrote “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” as a tribute to Ronnie. The next year, she recorded the song with backing by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and it was issued as a single on Epic Records.
Ronnie's rock and roll renditions of “Frosty the Snowman”, “Sleigh Ride”, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” are holiday classics and an integral part of every Christmas season. In fact her version of “Sleigh Ride” (#4) and “Frosty the Snowman” (#16) are on ASCAP's top 20 most played Christmas songs of the last five years. She is also the only artist with two songs on the list. In 1988, she introduced “Ronnie Spector's Christmas Party” and it has become a seasonal celebration playing to audiences across the country.
In 1986, Ronnie's duet with Eddie Money - “Take Me Home Tonight” - reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hung on the chart for 23 weeks. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award and became a heavy rotation video on MTV. In 1987, Ronnie returned to recording with her Columbia album, Unfinished Business. Over the course of the next 18 months, Ronnie Spector starred in the HBO/Cinemax special “Legendary Ladies of Rock,” presented on the American Music Awards, and performed on the NBC network special “Merry Motown Christmas.”
Ronnie Spector's recordings have been heard in such films as The Santa Clause 2, The Pickup Artist, Quadrophenia, Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Nine Months and Baby Mama. Most significantly, “Be My Baby” set the tone for the box office smash Dirty Dancing - and in 1988, Ronnie joined the cast of the Dirty Dancing stage show for a six-week international tour.
In 1989, Ronnie took time off to write the story of her remarkable life and great music. Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness (Crown, 1990) was an international bestseller; a revised and updated mass-market paperback was published in June 2004.
In the Nineties, Ronnie returned to the studio to record the theme song for Roseanne's ABC-TV cartoon, “Little Rosey.” She cut the haunting “Farewell to a Sex Symbol” for the cast album of Tim Rice's Tycoon, and sang “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” on the Top Ten platinum album A Very Special Christmas 2. In June 1997, at the invitation of President Bill Clinton, Ronnie performed for leaders of the major industrialized nations at the Summit of Eight in Denver, Colorado.
In 1999, Ronnie released the critically acclaimed EP She Talks to Rainbows on the cutting-edge indie label Kill Rock Stars. Highlights included Brian Wilson's “Don't Worry Baby” (which he wrote for Ronnie), Johnny Thunders' “You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory,” and a duet with EP producer Joey Ramone on his own composition “Bye Bye Baby.”
In June 2000, after a fifteen-year legal battle, Ronnie Spector won a landmark decision in the New York State courts. The ruling eased the way for veteran artists of the Fifties and Sixties to collect past-due royalties on their old recordings.
In 2004 Ronnie was recognized for her contribution to American popular music when she was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame.
Today, Ronnie Spector lives in Connecticut with her husband and their two sons. She is, quite simply, a legend in her own time - still radiating talent, beauty, and charisma.
The style, look, and sound of Ronnie Spector have served as an inspiration and role model for a generation of rock and roll women. In her sensuality, attitude, and dress, Ronnie created a personal and performing style, which has proven revolutionary. On stage, on record, or on the screen, a Ronnie Spector performance is a jubilant celebration of the power of pop.