January 12th, 2022 was a sad day for the music world and frankly the world in general. The fabulous Ronnie Spector passed and went on to wherever we all go next. Hearing the news immediately took me back to a world of more than 55 years ago, and one that I was actually not a part of myself just yet.
That drumbeat, that world of romance and heartbreak that Be My Baby ushered in. There was more to The Ronettes than just that, but in many ways that drumbeat and that song encapsulated it. The sound of the Sixties starting. The moment the world tuned out of black and white and into colour once and for all.
In the case of The Ronettes, this is not overstating things for a single moment. There were plenty of great Girl Groups around at the time and plenty of great singles, but this band was at the heart of this wonderful sub-genre and Ronnie was at the heart of The Ronettes. A diminutive sweetheart. An idealised first girlfriend.
The Ronettes only actually produced one studio LP but it's one you need, along with the Phil Spector Xmas Album and I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine. Ronnie herself put out plenty of great stuff hereself thereafter, but in many ways they were all to a greater or lesser extent looking back to the moment in 1964 when she and The Ronettes arrived and in their magical way, changed the world, for the better.
The Ronettes were really a singles outfit but Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica is a collection of 12 songs that all could have been and would have made great singles. They have a darkness, a sweetness and light that capture that precise moment in time, as The Beatles and The Stones arrived.
John Lennon was bowled over by Ronnie. A couple of The Stones went out with a couple of The Ronettes for a while. The three of them summed up the promise of America at the time and also the darkness of the shadow that it had fallen under following the Kennedy assassination that meant it needed those two English bands and all the others they brought with them, to bring on the new.
Anyway, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes is perfectly plotted. From Walking in the Run to The Chapel of Love. All the chapters of love. All its highs and lows. Ronnie lived them all herself, making the fatal, but easy enough error to make of marrying Phil. Boy, did she learn to regret it
There follwed and abusive, controlling and frightening marriage which summarised in a nutshell exactly what is wrong with some men. I don't care really what evident talent Phil had. He clearly didn't care about it much himself. I'd rather listen to the records he made. This is one of the best he ever had a hand in. Perhaps the very best. The world he helped to create was much, much better than the man himself. Fo the kernel of that you need look no further than Roonie and The Ronettes.