Q&A: Ronnie Spector
How the voice of the beehive and 60s sex symbol made a wall of sound with Hendrix, and had her career saved by John Lennon.
Muse to Phil Spector, confidante of The Beatles, Stones and Ramones, and the ultimate voice of the unrequited bad girl on Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, and even Frosty The Snowman, Ronnie Spector has personified rock’n’roll for half a century.
In advance of April’s English Heart album and its accompanying Ronettes single, an appropriately sassy cover of the Stones’ I’d Much Rather Be With The Boys that’s out in February, Ronnie reflects on a rock’n’roll life well lived.
The early 60s music scene you arrived into was very innocent in many ways, but your voice changed all that. Let’s not be shy here – your voice was very sexy, and you knew it. Is sex an integral ingredient of rock’n’roll?
I think so. You have to have all of the ingredients to be a rock’n’roll singer, and one of those is you have to be a little sexy. You don’t have to be clothesless – it’s the way you look, and the way you look at your audience. I don’t see any performers out there today that relate just to the audience. The Rolling Stones might be the exception because of Mick Jagger. Mick is a little like me: wild and sexy, all that stuff, but he’s relating to the audience. He looks all around the place and that’s what I do. That’s what people are missing today – you don’t need all those dancers. Just sing and perform to the people. Feel the people. Everything is for the people.
Your first label, Colpix, didn’t know what to do with you, but then along came Phil Spector. When you went for your audition, do you think he fell in love with you there and then?
I do, because when we went to get something to eat, he asked me to go with him. I’ve never forgotten that. All three of us [Ronettes] were on edge, sitting with him in the back seat of his limousine, and he asked me to go into the restaurant with him to pick up the food. That was when I knew, and that was the first night I met him.