Category Archives: Time Machine

PS Time Machine: September 1, 1963

Forty-six years ago today, the Ronettes charted with “Be My Baby,” dubbed by Brian Wilson as “the most perfect pop record of all time.”

Ronnie Spector performed it to perfection at the 7th annual Ponderosa Stomp, held in late April 2008.

From the Ponderosa Stomp website:

In a music industry where an artist’s life expectancy is often measured by their fleeting time in the spotlight, Ronnie Spector’s influence truly precedes her: it’s evident and immediate from the second that unforgettable drum intro to the Ronettes’ 1963 smash “Be My Baby” kicks in, and she hasn’t even started singing yet. No matter who you are, what you’ve heard before or what you will hear in the future, there’s little that can compare to hearing “Be My Baby” for the first—or even the millionth—time. Ask artists as varied as the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, the New York Dolls, the Ramones or even Billy Joel, whose “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” was written for her.

But don’t just stop there, look to Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who was so taken with “Be My Baby” that he penned the nearly-as-great “Don’t Worry Baby” in response to it. Even Madonna once famously stated, “I want to look the way Ronnie Spector sounds.”

Spector didn’t just shift the musical landscape, she shook it up with earthquake intensity, defining careers right and left with “Be My Baby,” “The Best Part of Breaking Up,” “Baby I Love You,” “He Did It” and unforgettable renditions of Christmas classics like “Frosty The Snowman.”

To quote the lady’s website, because we couldn’t say it better ourselves: “Only a few artists in history have been capable of defining an entire era in pop music. Ronnie Spector is one of those artists: the embodiment of the heart, soul and passion of female rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s. And to this day, no one has ever surpassed Ronnie’s powerful trademark vocals, her gutsy attitude, or her innocent but knowing sexuality.”

The truth, plain and simple. From her slit skirts to her sensual voice, there’s never been anything ordinary about her. Born Veronica Bennett to a white father and half-Cherokee half-black mother, Spector grew up in Spanish Harlem during the heart of the doo-wop era. Her earliest influence and lifelong idol, Frankie Lyman, lived just blocks away, and Spector would often go out of her way to pass his house on 165th Street. Cutting her teeth at the Apollo Theater’s infamous amateur nights, she formed the Ronettes with sister Estelle and cousin Nedra while still in her teens. After a stint at the Peppermint Lounge, they were soon performing at DJ Murray the K’s notorious Brooklyn Fox rock ‘n’ roll package shows.

Signed to the Colpix label, their first records included standouts like the aforementioned “He Did It” and “You Bet I Would,” written by Jackie DeShannon and Carole King respectively. In 1963 the Ronettes hooked up with The Tycoon of Teen himself, Phil Spector, resulting in the worldwide smash “Be My Baby,” followed by a tour of England with the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds as opening acts. The next few years found them turning in a hysteria-inducing performance on the Tami TNT Show and taking front and center on the legendary Phil Spector’s Christmas Album.

In 1966 the Beatles personally requested the Ronettes to open for them on their final tour, then signed Ronnie to their Apple imprint in 1970 for the George Harrison-penned single “Try Some, Buy Some,” where she was backed by two-thirds of the Fab Four.

Inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, Ronnie has remained a rocker to the very core, often commenting on the lack of passion in modern music. Her latest release, the tellingly titled (and excellent) Last Of The Rock Stars, features a smattering of friends and fans who range from veterans Keith Richards and Patti Smith to young Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes. Never forgetting where she came from, it contains a great version of the tin-pan alley ballad-cum-R&B hit made famous by Frankie Lyman, “Out In The Cold Again.”

More videos:
Ronnie Spector performing “I Wonder” at the 7th annual Ponderosa Stomp.
Ronnie Spector performing “Baby I Love You” at the 7th annual Ponderosa Stomp.