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, The Last of the Rock Stars, due out stateside November 11th of 2009, is simply the best and most-fully realized album of her career. For the first time ever, Ronnie is in full control of her material, arrangements, and production—which explains the remarkable warmth and vitality of her performances throughout the album. The supporting cast includes members of Ronnie’s longtime touring band along with special guests Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), members of The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Patti Smith, and the one and only Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.
RONNIE SPECTOR COMMENTS ON TRACKS FROM THE LAST OF THE ROCK STARS
“All I Want” – Written by acclaimed singer/songwriter Amy Rigby. Keith Richards is heard on lead guitar.
“The Rolling Stones opened for the Ronettes on our first tour of the UK (in January 1964). We traveled together in the same van. I remember times when the fog was so thick, we’d have to pull over-Keith and I would walk up to some stranger’s house to ask for a cup of tea! So it’s amazing to have Keith back with me now-our chemistry is really something else. To be in that studio together was like traveling 40 years back in time.”
“There Is An End” – Cincinnati garage-rock heroes the Greenhornes back Ronnie on this haunting track, featuring Patti Smith.
“I spent two days in a studio in the Midwest with the Greenhornes, and by the start of the second day we were really hitting it off. We got a great take on this song-it was written by their lead singer, Craig Fox. Back in New York, that’s when we got Patti Smith. She came into the studio, we turned the lights way down low, and her part just came out as pure inspiration.
“Originally, we’d planned to have me sing with her on the bridge. But Patti sounded so amazing that we took my voice out and put the spotlight on her. She deserved! it”
“Out In The Cold Again” – A poignant Tin Pan Alley ballad that became a Top Ten R&B hit for Frankie Lymon & the Teengers in 1957.
“If there had been no Frankie Lymon, there would be no Ronnie Spector. He was my biggest influence as a singer. We lived on West 151st Street and he lived on West 165th Street. I remember going to the High Bridge swimming pool, on West 171st Street, just so I could pass by Frankie’s house. I saw Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers at a show in Philadelphia when I was thirteen years old, and I’ll never forget it.
“When I first tried singing ‘Out In the Cold’ at the session, my heart began to beat so fast that I had to tell the engineers to stop for a minute. I was just carried away with the emotion of that moment and my memories of Frankie Lymon.”
“Ode to L.A.” – Written by Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes.
“(Co-producer) Richard Gottehrer sent us the demo and I just loved it. ‘Ode to L.A.’ is a comtemporary rock and roll tune that was obviously inspired by some of my classics. I don’t mind, y’know, somebody quoting the drum part from ‘Be My Baby’ if they can say something different with it – which Sune definitely did with this song.”
THE STORY SO FAR
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 per¬forms 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 come¬dian named Richard Pryor was the opening act for the Ronettes' final live performance.
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. Ronnie sang with Alice Cooper and on Jimi Hendrix’s final recording session (August 1970).
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 “Sleigh Ride” and “Frosty the Snowman” were in ASCAP’s top 20 most played Christmas songs of the past 5 years. 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 per¬formed 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 per¬sonal 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.