Say It's Your Birthday: The Ronettes' Ronnie Spector

Veronica Bennett, born today in New York City in 1943, the

daughter of a racially-mixed couple, came to lead the first of the "bad" girl

groups in rock, and later married rock 'n' roll's best-known record producer,

Phil Spector. As Ronnie Bennett, she led the Ronettes (which also included her

sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley) to success in the beginning of

the '60s, and in 1963 their big break came when Phil Spector signed the

Ronettes to his Phillies label. From their first meeting, Spector was

infatuated with Ronnie, and according to Ronnie, he tried to break her apart

from the band. But the Ronettes stayed together, and their first hit, "Be My

Baby," (1963) proved to be their most successful record. Other, less successful

hits followed ("Baby I Love You," "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up," "Do I Love

You"). Nineteen-sixty-six was the year that Ronnie and Spector were married. By

that time, the Ronettes career was essentially over. Throughout the '70s Ronnie

Spector attempted numerous comebacks, some with a reunited Ronettes, but

despite having numerous fans in the music industry including Bruce Springsteen,

she failed to take hold commercially again until her 1986 duet with Eddie

Money, "Take Me Home Tonight," which peaked at #4. Other birthdays: Jimmy Dean

and Eddie Fisher, both in 1928; Righteous Brother Bobby Hatfield (1940); Ian

Anderson, the man often mistaken as being Jethro Tull (1947); Jon Farriss of

INXS (1961); and Michael Bivens of the '80s R&B groups New Edition and Bell Biv

DeVoe (1968). --Seth Mnookin