It still has a magic all of its own when the past reappears directly in the now. That’s why on this day, after the death of singer Ronnie Spector, you hear “Be My Baby”, the biggest hit of your band, again The Ronettes, Published in 1963. Embrace the drum intro, this heavily dabbed “boom – boom, boom, chak”, and the masterfully built production that drives the candy floss sweetness out of the choirs and the lyrics. Crazy field of tension. Song for the ages. Not even the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack could really devastate him. And then switch to “Back To Black” from Amy Winehouse, this pitch-black longing hymn of the lovesick and drunkards, and experience how everything the Ronettes stood for, the oversized, lavish, opulent (for the time), plus Spector’s reputation as a “bad girl of rock and roll” and yes, they too Hairstyles (beehive!) And skirts, shows up there again. Epic reverberation after decades.
So much for the timelessness of art. Great at least.
Mark Ronson produced and gently updated the music for Winehouse. For the Ronettes it was the woman beater at the time, later murderer but also comprehensively ingenious sound manic and wall-of-sound forefather Phil Spector. The producer was a great artistic stroke of luck for the band. Took the dreamy, velvety choirs, put the dangerous, slightly shaded voice of Spector in the center, stacked his immense soundscapes over them, recorded by the then one of the best studio band in the world, the Wrecking crew, and therefore also valid forever in combination with the singing.
Unfortunately, she then married her producer
“Baby, I Love You”, “Walking In The Rain”, the gigantic multidimensional “Is This What I Get For Loving You”, the caramel-melted “So Young”. Sweet, sad childhood fantasies, yes. But colored dark. And inimitably direct. Singer Diane Warren wrote in her digital book of condolence that Spector is “the voice of millions of teenagers’ dreams, mine included.” “I loved her voice so much,” tweeted Brian Wilson of the Beach boys.
Unfortunately, Spector, who was born Veronica Yvette Bennet in New York in 1943, as the name suggests, married her producer in 1968, a year after the Ronettes broke up. The marriage lasted a terrible few years. She dealt with the madness, the violence and the abuse of this time in 1990 in her book with the very famous title “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette”. One of the best rock autobiographies to date. Lots of highs in it – and a few more lows. Artistically, at least, as they say, it became a little quieter around Spector. There have been some great collaborations, including with them Misfits or Bruce Springsteen, and a couple of Ronettes revivals. In 2007 she finally became part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame recorded. A role model for so many who came.
In 2011, after the death of Amy Winehouse, Spector covered “Back To Black”. The proceeds went to an addiction treatment center. Big wonderful pop bow again. Very big, very wonderful voice. On January 12th she fell silent.