By Bill Kopp
Ronnie Spector would have celebrated her 79th birthday this week; the beloved singer passed away in January after a brief illness. Born Veronica Bennett, Ronnie Spector would become a legend as the lead voice of The Ronettes, the crown jewel of Phil Spector’s girl-group projects.
The Ronettes scored an impressive run of hit singles in the early 1960s, and were an exemplar of the girl group style, giving the songs a tougher, streetwise edge. Enduring a tumultuous marriage to (and later divorce from) producer Spector, in her post-Ronettes career Ronnie would go on to release a number of notable albums. Collaborations and duets are peppered throughout her discography; here are five of the most noteworthy tracks.
“Try Some, Buy Some” (1971) Written and co-produced by George Harrison, this track was created by the ex-Beatle expressly for Spector. When the recording wasn’t a major hit, Harrison reused the instrumental track, adding his own vocal in place of Ronnie’s and including it on his 1973 album Living in the Material World.
“You Mean So Much to Me” (1976) A spirited and soulful duet with Southside Johnny, this cut was written by Bruce Springsteen for I Don’t Want to Go Home, the debut album by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
“Take Me Home Tonight” (1986) Ronnie’s contributions to this Eddie Money recording may be brief, but her nostalgic reprise of lyrics from one of The Ronettes’ biggest hits (1963’s “Be My Baby”) helped propel the song to the Top 5 on the singles charts.
“This Magic Moment” (2003) Punk band The Misfits recorded a roaring album of rock and roll standards and classics, Project 1950. For the band’s reading of the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman classic (originally recorded by The Drifters in 1959), Ronnie Spector provided backing vocals.
“Ode to L.A.” (2005) For their second album, Danish indie rock duo paid tribute to some of their influences by inviting them to play on the record. Maureen Tucker (The Velvet Underground) and Martin Rev (Suicide) guested on selected Pretty in Black tracks. Ronnie contributed her distinctive vocals to this original song, very much in the classic girl-group style pioneered by The Ronettes.
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