A trio of sassy, glamorous young women from Spanish Harlem, the Ronettes exemplified the Girl Group ideal, exuding both youthful innocence and worldly sensuality. They were the ideal vehicle for the eccentric, visionary producer Phil Spector, who combined his innovative “Wall of Sound” production techniques with the Ronettes' sweet-but-sexy voices to create such teen classics as "Be My Baby," "Baby I Love You," "Do I Love You?," and "Walking in the Rain." (Spector also married lead singer Ronnie Bennett.)
Although they're now known almost exclusively for their work with Spector, the Ronettes actually got their start a few years earlier. Sisters Ronnie and Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley began harmonizing together early in life, and won one of the famed Apollo Theater’s talent contest. In 1961, their looks and moves got them hired as dancers at New York's fashionable Peppermint Lounge, ground zero of the then-current Twist craze. They got a record deal with Colpix, which issued a series of unsuccessful singles credited to Ronnie and the Relatives, Veronica and eventually the Ronettes.
The Ronettes' career took off after they recorded "Be My Baby" with Spector in 1963. The following January, the group began its first tour of England, where they consorted with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The Stones opened for the Ronettes on that tour, and the Ronettes would open for the Beatles on their 1965 tour of U.S. stadiums.
The Ronettes split up in 1967, the victims of changing musical tastes and their Svengali's shifting interests and controlling behavior. Ronnie finally left Phil in 1972 and formed a new Ronettes lineup, before beginning a solo career that's experienced periodic revivals — like her guest appearance on Eddie Money's 1986 hit "Take Me Home Tonight" and "Be My Baby"'s prominent appearance in the hit 1988 film Dirty Dancing. The same year, the three original Ronettes sued Spector for unpaid royalties, a case which has dragged through the courts for years. In 1990, Ronnie published an autobiography, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, which offered a vivid account of her troubled relationship with her former husband.