Sixty years ago, Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love were the reigning queens of New York pop. Both commandeered the charts (with the Ronettes and initially the Crystals, respectively), both had gloriously strong, emotive voices, and both were produced by the late Phil Spector. Over time, they each broke with Spector and, despite some creative lulls, carried on. The two legends remained in touch, performing together for the last time at a 2016 Rainforest Fund benefit at New York’s Carnegie Hall. With TV news reports of Spector’s death in the background, Love spoke with Rolling StoneLearn more about her relationship with Spector.
Ronnie was a wonderful person. She was a joy. She would crack you up. This is heartbreaking. This is getting closer to home.
Ronnie was my first date in the Sixties. She hadn’t started recording for Phil yet. I had already recorded [the Crystals’] “He’s a Rebel”He was my partner. Murray the K and I did a Christmas show together in Brooklyn. The Ronettes were the dancing girls. Ronnie knew everything about me when she found out that I was there. She stated that Phil Spector was the man she wanted to record because he had the potential to get her a hit. She believed he could help her achieve success on record. A year later, she was recording for Phil in California. She traveled all the way from here [New York]California
She was a tiny, cute little thing. I thought she looked like a Barbie doll. She was so beautiful. She had a strong voice from the start. She sounded like Frankie Lymon from the Teenagers. But she didn’t try to sound like him. That’s just the way she was, which was amazing. The way she sang and moved around the stage, she was rock and rolling. The Ronettes were once our name. “the nasty girls,”And we were the “good girls”!
“Be My Baby”This is my favourite song by The Ronettes. That is and “Walking in the Rain.” “Be My Baby”Our great-grandchildren will still be here. It’s all the in the way she sang it and interpreted it. We didn’t have demos to learn those songs. They were given to us as a gift. Phil taught her the melody and then she did it. Her distinctive sound will always be a part of your ears, even though it was her only hit.
We used to call them the Ronettes “the nasty girls,”And we were the “good girls”!
Our lives were almost identical with Phil. My life was almost parallel with Phil. She had to deal with him both as a husband, and as a record producer. He had her under contract, and she was his wife. It was hard for her to leave him. When she was on top, Phil didn’t want her to travel or meet the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. He tried to stop it.
Her separation from him was much more difficult than mine. She and Phil talked a lot in those years. We didn’t get into too much detail, but I wanted to give her some tips about life. “Make the best of it. Do what you have to do.”
That song featuring Eddie Money [“Take Me Home Tonight”]It brought her career back to life. It is a great example of how you can make your life better. You can be as strong or weak as you wish. It was a surprise that the song would become a hit. Her? It was his song! It was a beautiful song that I heard. “That sounds just like Ronnie.”It’s also quite possible Was Ronnie! This is the best way to sum it up. You are a true artist when you have that voice.
It was always an exciting feeling to know that she was out there doing what she loved. She could still belt those songs out even in her last years. She used to tell me, “I want to be on stage my whole life. There’s nothing I’d rather do than sing on stage.”
And that was something I believed. She wanted to be a singer and she wanted to be a star, more than anybody I’ve ever known. And that’s what she ended up becoming. She went after it and she didn’t let anybody stop her from doing it. Her legacy was that anyone can get what they want, if they are desperate enough.