|Origin||New York, New York,
|Genres||Rock and roll, pop|
|Years active||1959 – 1966|
|Associated acts||Ronnie Spector
|Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett
The Ronettes were a 1960s girl group from New York City, best known for their work with producer Phil Spector. The group consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett (a.k.a. Ronnie Spector); her sister, Estelle Bennett; and their cousin Nedra Talley. They reached the peak of their success after releasing Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica in 1964. Some of the group's most famous songs include "Be My Baby," "Baby, I Love You," "(The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up", and "(Walking) In the Rain."
Sisters Estelle (1941-2009) and Veronica Bennett (born 1943), and their cousin Nedra Talley (born 1946), began singing together as teenagers in Washington Heights, Manhattan. The sisters grew up listening to rock and pop; Ronnie especially liked Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, while Nedra enjoyed Rosemary Clooney.  At a young age, their grandmother encouraged them to harmonize; they became proficient in songs such as “Goodnight Sweetheart” and “Red Red Robin.”  Their grandmother entered them into a talent show at the Apollo Theatre in 1959 as The Darling Sisters, which they subsequently won. Phillip Halikus, who was to become their manager, saw their potential and promoted the group's early appearances at hops and charity shows. 
The Ronettes first appeared in 1961 during the Twist era. They started off as dancers at Joey Dee’s Peppermint Lounge on 45th Street in New York City. One night while waiting in line to perform, the manager mistook them for a singing trio that had not arrived and they were ushered on stage. After performing Ray Charles’s "What'd I Say", they became wildly popular and were signed to appear regularly for $10 a night. The Ronettes, then still The Darling Sisters, were also booked at the Miami Peppermint Lounge, where they were spotted by disc jockey Murray the K who hired them as Murray the K's dancing girls for his Brooklyn Fox Shows. They also were hired for Clay Cole's "Twist-o-rama" tour during this period. Halikus was able to secure a record deal with Colpix through Stu Phillips. The group's first four singles had little success.  They released their first single, "I Want A Boy", during the summer of 1961, under their new Colpix given name, Ronnie and the Relatives. Their next single with Colpix had the girls listed as The Ronettes and was titled "I'm on a Wagon" but was never released. The same year, they released a song called "Good Girls" arranged by Bert Keyes, which showed their developing sound and growing maturity.  They also worked as backup singers for Bobby Rydell, Del Shannon, and Joey Dee.
In 1963 they came to the attention of producer Phil Spector, who was looking for a new girl group to assume The Crystals' mantle. He was taken with Ronnie's voice and style, and signed The Ronettes to his Philles label. Spector initially wanted to sign Ronnie Bennett as a solo artist, but when the three girls refused to be broken up, Spector signed them all.  The Ronettes started off as backup singers to other artists in Spector's stable, such as Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans and Darlene Love. As Spector's new protégées, they assumed the image of the first “bad girls of rock and roll,”  with beehive hairdos, heavy eyeliner, and tight skirts. Their songs were addressed directly to their subjects, giving them a more seductive manner, using lyrics such as “I love you” instead of “I love him.” 
Their first Philles single was "Be My Baby," co-written by Spector with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and arranged and produced by Spector. Phil Spector produced “Be My Baby” integrating castanets, maracas, and Hal Blaine drum work into his "Wall of Sound" technique.  It became a worldwide hit, reaching #2 on the U.S. pop chart, #4 on the R&B chart, and #4 on the UK chart and sold over 2 million copies. Brian Wilson, leader and songwriter of the Beach Boys, claims that “Be My Baby” is “my all-time favorite song. . . . . It blew my mind,” and wrote “Don’t Worry Baby” for the Ronettes as a tribute. Phil Spector rejected the offering, so the Beach Boys recorded it, and the song charted #24 on the US hot 100  In 1964 Spector began managing as well as producing the group. After "Be My Baby," none of The Ronettes’ other singles ever made it into the top 20 in the US,  but from September 1963 through December 1964, they placed five singles in the Top 40. 
Their follow-up song, "Baby, I Love You," had an even denser arrangement, featuring Leon Russell on piano and backing vocals from Darlene Love and Cher, among others. It was slightly less successful, reaching #24 in the United States and #11 in the United Kingdom.  On Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You” album, The Ronettes recorded “Sleigh Ride”, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Frosty the Snowman."
Early in 1964 The Ronettes toured England with The Rolling Stones and were introduced to The Beatles. They continued to have hits with "The Best Part of Breaking Up" (#39 U.S., #43 UK), "Do I Love You?" (#34 U.S., #35 UK), and the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song "(Walking) In the Rain" (#23 U.S.), which won a Grammy for Best Sound Effects, the only Grammy Spector ever received. However, their album "Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica" only reached #96, and other singles were less successful; musical tastes had moved beyond the girl group sound, and the Ronettes were unable to maintain their relevance. “I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine” was one of the final songs that Spector produced for the Ronettes and was never released, since his attention was turned to his productions for Tina Turner in 1966.  Spector was very possessive of The Ronettes, especially towards Ronnie. In 1966 when the Ronettes were set to open for the Beatles tour, Spector made Ronnie stay at home while a cousin took her place on the tour instead.  Jeff Barry produced the last Ronettes song on the Philles label, “I Can Hear Music”. After the success of the Ike & Tina Turner song “River Deep-Mountain High”, Spector shut down the Philles label and the Ronettes disbanded.
The Ronettes' influence on music was significant. In addition to Wilson, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen have both cited Ronnie Bennett as an influence. 
In the mid-60s, Nedra Talley married New York City radio station programming director Scott Ross, while Estelle Bennett married road manager Joe Dong. In 1968, Ronnie Bennett married Phil Spector and retired from performance for several years under his oppressive control. In 1971, under Spector's direction, Ronnie recorded "Try Some, Buy Some" for the Beatles' Apple label. It became a minor hit, reaching #77 in the spring of 1971. 
In 1973, as she and Spector were about to divorce, she returned to performing at Richard Nader's "Rock and Roll Revival" show at Madison Square Garden. Her new version of The Ronettes at that time included Denise Edwards and Chip Fields. During this time, the group issued two singles on the Buddha label. Ronnie would later record and perform as a solo act, scoring a Top 10 hit with Eddie Money in 1986, "Take Me Home Tonight".
In 1988, the original Ronettes sued Spector for nonpayment of royalties. In 2001, a New York court announced a verdict in favor of The Ronettes, ordering Spector to pay nearly three million dollars in back royalties. The judgment was later overturned on appeal.
The Ronettes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.
It was believed that Phil Spector, in his capacity as a member of the Board of Governors, deliberately prevented The Ronettes (and Darlene Love) from being nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although they had been eligible for a considerable time. The alleged reasons included the acrimonious divorce of Ronnie and Spector, in addition to the group having unsuccessfully sued Spector for back royalties. While Spector was awaiting trial on a murder charge and out on $1 million bail, the Ronettes were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Keith Richards, a longtime fan, inducted the trio. Ronnie Bennett (Spector) and Nedra Talley performed "Baby I Love You," "(Walking) In the Rain," and "Be My Baby." Estelle Bennett was present to accept her award but chose not to perform.
|U.S. Hot 100||UK Singles Chart|
|1961||"My Darling Angel" (May 111)||-||-|
|1961||"I Want a Boy" (Colpix 601)||-||-|
|1962||"Silhouettes" (1961) (May 114)||-||-|
|1962||"I'm Gonna Quit While I'm Ahead" (1961) (Colpix 646)||-||-|
|1962||"The Memory" (1961) (May 138)||-||-|
|1963||"Be My Baby" (Philles 116)||2||4|
|1963||"Baby, I Love You" (Philles 118)||24||11|
|1964||"(The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up" (Philles 120)||39||43|
|1964||"Do I Love You?" (Philles 121)||34||35|
|1964||"(Walking) In The Rain" (Philles 123)||23||-|
|1965||"Born To Be Together" (Philles 126)||52||-|
|1965||"Is This What I Get For Loving You?" (Philles 128)||75||-|
|1965||"He Did It" (1961) (Dimension 1046)||-||-|
|1966||"I Can Hear Music" (Philles 133)||100||-|
|1969||"You Came, You Saw, You Conquered!" (A&M 1040)||-||-|
|1973||"Go Out and Get It" (Buddha 384)||-||-|
|1974||"I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine" (Buddha 408)||-||-|
|1976||"Paradise" (Warner/Spector 409)||-||-|