On this day in 1943, Veronica Bennett -- known to the world as singer Ronnie Spector -- was born in New York City. In 1961, Ronnie, her younger sister Estelle and cousin Nedra Talley became dancers at the Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan, N.Y., the famed club at which the Twist dance craze first became popular. The trio, billed as Ronnie & the Relatives, also released their first record, "I Want A Boy," that year on Colpix Records. In 1962, they became the Ronettes for their second single, "Silhouettes."
The Ronettes met record producer Phil Spector in 1963. Impressed with Ronnie's voice, Spector signed the group to his Philles label and they issued their first single containing Spector's signature "Wall of Sound" production, the classic "Be My Baby." The single hit #2 and was followed by another hit, "Baby I Love You."
In December 1963, the Ronettes contributed to Spector's famed various-artists compilation, the A Christmas Gift For You holiday LP. The album is still one of the most popular Christmas releases of all time and featured the Ronettes' versions of "Frosty The Snowman," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and "Sleigh Ride," all cuts which are played at Yuletide to this day.
During the following year, the Ronettes toured with the Rolling Stones and Ronnie recorded her first solo song, the limited-release "So Young." More hits followed for the band, including "Walking in the Rain" in the U.S. and "Do I Love You?" in the U.K.
The Ronettes' debut LP, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, came out in 1965. Later that year, the group -- without Ronnie -- began a U.S. tour, opening for the Beatles. Ronnie had decided to leave the group in order to spend time with Spector, whom she soon married. In 1966, the Ronettes disbanded.
Ronnie and Phil Spector didn't record again until signing with A&M Records in 1969. Ronnie recorded the single, "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered," credited to "The Ronettes, featuring the voice of Veronica." In 1971, with Phil producing, Ronnie recorded tracks for the Beatles' Apple Records with the help of George Harrison. "Try Some, Buy Some," written by Harrison and sung by Ronnie, peaked at #77. After appearing at a few rock 'n' roll revival shows with new backup singers, Ronnie signed to Buddah Records in 1973 with her new partners as Ronnie & the Ronettes. The trio failed to make a big splash, and, that same year, Ronnie separated from Spector.
The next year, the pair's divorce became final and years of bitterness between the two ensued. In 1976, Ronnie sang backup for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Palladium in New York City. The following year, Springsteen guitarist/bassist Steve Van Zandt produced her version of Billy Joel's "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" (which was originally inspired by Ronnie and featured a Spector-like production). In 1980, Ronnie issued her first solo album, Siren, but it didn't become a hit. In 1986, she was prominently featured on pop-rocker Eddie Money's song and video "Take Me Home Tonight," on which she crooned her famous "Be My Baby" lines. Columbia Records signed Ronnie in 1987 and she released Unfinished Business.
In 1990, Ronnie was in the media again when her autobiography, "Be My Baby," attracted attention to her claims that Spector had imprisoned her in their home during their marriage. She has spent much of the decade performing at benefit concerts and rock nostalgia events. Ronnie recently recorded some tracks with punk-rocker Joey Ramone for an upcoming EP on U.K.-based Creation Records. Scheduled for release in the fall, it will feature Ramones tunes and one song each from punk pioneer Johnny Thunders and from the Beach Boys.
Other birthdays: Eddie Fisher, 70; Bobby Hatfield (Righteous Brothers), 58; Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), 51; Patti Austin, 50; Jon Farriss (INXS), 37; Julia Fordham, 36; Jeff McDonald (Redd Kross), 35; Lorraine Pearson (Five Star), 31; and Michael Bivens (New Edition/Bell Biv DeVoe), 30.