Ronnie Ronnette and her Rock’n’Roll affairs


Quite a menagerie.
Quite a menagerie.

With just a few short chapters remaining for me to devour, in the fabulous Ronnie Spector autobiography, Be My Baby, I found myself astounded by how many men of rock’n’roll Ms. Spector found herself involved with (albeit not always sexually).

When she first started out as a Ronette, she met John Lennon, who was immediately smitten with her. He had already fallen in love with her music, and her voice, but upon meeting her in London in January of 1964, he apparently couldn’t settle for adoring her sound. A loyal girl, madly in love with Phil Spector, she politely declined all of John’s advances. They were able to remain lifelong friends though, with steady admiration for each other as they lived their separate lives.

It’s funny because in this book Ronnie consistently portrays herself as an innocent victim, unaware of danger until it befalls her. She very coyly alludes to scandalous outfits she would wear on stage, not to mention her onstage antics, that supposedly for the day, were really vulgar. Outside of those references, she paints herself as a rather timid girl – never really a woman. To that end, she was easily controlled (most notably by Spector) or at least swayed, which probably made it easy for The Thin White Duke when Ronnie entered his radar in March of 1976. Ronnie had attended one of his shows in New York City, with May Pang (none other than John Lennon’s respite from his relationship with Yoko Ono), and afterwards a reception in a restaurant. Though cordoned off, as a proper Duke, Bowie apparently spotted Ronnie and had one of his servants usher her into his space. Later that night she found herself in his suite, with many other artsy types with inflated ideas of self-importance. She waited in the crowd until she was escorted to a room where Bowie awaited, naked, fiddling with cassette tapes. He was one rockstar she did not resist.

Minimal mention was made of her brief relationship with Little Stevie Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Another admirer of Ronnie’s, Van Zandt was a guitarist on one of her oldies tours in 1974. She describes their relationship as, “nothing too serious, just some good times on the road,” but one gets the impression that perhaps that idea wasn’t shared. On a weekend trip to Puerto Rico, Ronnie drowned herself in alcohol, effectively ending that romance. Van Zandt didn’t call her when they returned to New York, and that’s just what Ronnie had hoped for. They would work again together in the future, however.

If things had gone differently, Ronnie might’ve worked with Brian Wilson too – could you imagine if a love affair had transpired there?

Although I included a picture of Bruce, they never (well, at least not according to this book) had an affair. I just really like that picture.

And of course, I couldn’t leave out dear lunatic Phil, with a gun and a version of an Afro, no less!

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