I have great luck, when looking around for something to read, good books appear. I wouldn’t say that Be My Baby is a great book, but it is a fascinating read.
Ronnie Spector died in January of this year, and her memoirs was updated and published again. Originally published in 1990, she updated Be My Baby before her death.
We all know she was the lead singer of the 1960s girl group the Ronettes, but disappeared when she fell in love with her producer Phil Spector, and fell under his paranoid and manic control. He kept her a virtual prisoner in their mansion.
She burst onto the scene as part of the Ronettes, but their chart success was brief, and the problem was Phil Spector, who wanted Ronnie Bennett in a guided cage. Spector sabotaged her career, by stringing her along with promises of more hits, while she bought into the life he could provide, seeing the roses, but not the thorns.
Later, we would learn just how strange and dangerous Phil Spector was. Ronnie Bennett was aware, but also found redeeming qualities, until those turned to blackness as Spector further exerted his suffocating control and imprisonment. With the help of her mother, Ronnie Spector escaped, barefoot and broke, but free.
“I knew I was going to die there,” Ronnie Spector said in a 2018 People interview. “It’s a feeling you get. He was so obsessed and he always said, ‘Before I let you go, you’ll be dead, honey.’ And he wasn’t kidding.” He told her that he had purchased her coffin, with a glass top so he could always keep track of her.
The book devotes a lot of ink to her Phil Spector years, and how it sent her spiraling into alcoholism and depression. It would be a long road of rebuilding her career and life.
“The magical music we were able to make together, was inspired by our love. I loved him madly, and gave my heart and soul to him,” Spector said when Phil Spector died. “As I said many times while he was alive, he was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband.”
When news of Phil Spector’s death in prison was announced, Ronnie Spector said she felt nothing. He had sucked the feeling out of her years ago. She had let go of that part of her life, replaced it with happiness, and moved on.
The last 40 years of her life brought her a long and happy marriage and two sons. Ronnie Spector also found her career again; concert performances, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a top ten charting duet duet with Eddie Money.
Ronnie Spector had quite a life. A chart-topping song, concerts all over the world, fame and a hall of famer. Friends with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and many others. A fling with Bowie, almost a fling with John Lennon and a longtime friendship with Keith Richards. What she wanted most was a normal life of a solid marriage and children, which she eventually found.
Be My Baby tells the story of a resilient woman, who unknowingly traded her life to a controlling, mentally damaged man who tried, but ultimately failed, to break her. She not only survived, she flourished.
One thought on “Ronnie Spector: Be My Baby”
She was a ground breaking gal. The wall of sound only made the record better. Yep, Spector was a sleezy guy, but a brilliant producer. I heard the song a few days ago and it hasn’t lost any of it’s punch.