BE MY BABY: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette by Ronnie with Vince Waldron Spector

BE MY BABY: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The lead singer of the Ronettes and former wile of producer Phil Spector recounts her roller-coaster career and emotionally abusive marriage. Born in Spanish Harlem in 1943, Veronica Bennett always loved to sing. As teens, she, her sister, and her cousin met a small-time agent who got them work playing bar mitzvahs. He introduced them to a producer, and they made a record. It bombed, but the three put on matching yellow dresses, stuffed their bras, and went to New York's hottest club; by the time the night was over, they had a regular gig as dancers. Then they started dancing at the Brooklyn Fox rock-and-roll revue, where they performed alongside the Shirelles, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and others. In 1963, Phil Spector agreed to audition them; he signed them because he loved Ronnie's voice. As the group rehearsed, Phil and Ronnie became involved. ""Be My Baby"" became their first and biggest hit. The group toured England, where they made friends with the Beatles (Ronnie flirted with John, but stayed true to Phil). But trouble started when Ronnie and Phil got a mansion in Beverly Hills. Phil was fiercely possessive. He convinced her not to open for the Bealles. He yelled at her, then hired servants to watch her every move. Marriage didn't help. He preferred to keep her at home than to record with her, and she became so bored she drank all the time. Finally, she left him and tried to relaunch her career, but she was often drunk. Then, however, she met a sane and gentle man, quit drinking, and had two babies. Spector's portrait of the energy of the early Sixties music scene is fascinating. Although she doesn't explicity discuss the girl group phenomenon, what really comes across is how completely she ceded control--first to her mother, then to her various producers--especially her husband. A lively, illuminating read, then, for fans of the period or for anyone interested in the power politics of the music business.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Harmony/Crown