The Ronettes were a 1960s girl group from New York City: singer Veronica Bennett, 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.

They began singing together as teenagers in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The sisters grew up listening to rock and pop and their grandmother encouraged them to harmonize. Their grandmother was the one that entered them into a talent show at the Apollo Theatre in 1959 as The Darling Sisters, which they subsequently won. Phillip Halikus, who was to become their manager, saw their potential and promoted the group’s early appearances at hops and charity shows.

The group’s first four singles had little success. They released their first single, “I Want A Boy”, during the summer of 1961, under their new name, Ronnie and the Relatives. 🙂

In 1963 they came to the attention of producer Phil Spector. He loved Veronica’s voice and style and wanted to sign her as a solo artist, but the three girls refused to be broken up. As Spector’s new protégées, they assumed 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.” 🙂

And the rest is history: hits like “Be My Baby” or “Baby, I Love You” and opening the 1966 Beatles’ tour.

The saddest thing is that, in 1968, Ronnie Bennett married Phil Spector and retired from performance for several years under his oppressive control. 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.

The Ronettes’ influence on music was significant: Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen have both cited Veronica Bennett as an influence.


Categories: Stories of artists

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