Ronnie Spector Said The Ronettes and The Beatles Were ‘Buddies’: ‘It Was Rock ‘N’ Roll’
In the 1960s, The Ronettes and The Beatles were friends. How could they not be? They were two of the decade’s best rock ‘n’ roll groups. As we look back at the legacy of The Ronettes’ Ronnie Spector, who died on Jan. 12, we can’t help but explore her and her girl group’s relationship with The Fab Four. They looked up to The Beatles, who treated them like the superstars they were.
The Ronettes met The Beatles when they toured the U.K. in 1964
During a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Spector revealed that The Beatles and other British bands, like The Rolling Stones, welcomed The Ronettes when they toured the U.K. in Jan. 1964. This was before The Beatles broke America and after The Ronettes released their hit “Be My Baby.” The Rolling Stones opened for the girl group on that tour too.
“When the Ronettes started out, our first big trip was to the U.K., where we met the Beatles before they even came to the States and the Rolling Stones were our opening act,” Spector said. “Everybody was so innocent. Everybody just loved the music and the fun we had backstage; if it was somebody’s birthday, we got a cake and soda.
“We didn’t have all the stuff that came later on with rock & roll… But when we got to the U.K., we felt like real stars for the first time [laughs]. So I thought of the idea that I was over there in the Ronettes with the British Invasion when it was all happening for us.
“I was at the peak of my career when I was with the Kinks, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, and we were all so happy together. And then all of a sudden, I was taken away from it [because of Phil].”
According to People, The Beatles officially met The Ronettes at a show-business party in London during that 1964 tour. “They had seen us on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and they said, ‘We have got to meet these girls with the black long hair and slits up the side,'” Spector said.
Later, the two groups became good friends.
Spector said the two groups were ‘buddies’
After that first meeting, The Ronettes and The Beatles stayed in touch and hung out whenever they were in each other’s neck of the woods.
“John Lennon and all the guys took us to Carnaby Street [in London] to show us where to get,” Spector continued to Rolling Stone. “It was innocent. It was pure. It was rock & roll. John and Paul would be writing on napkins anywhere we’d go; they were just, like, crazy about the music.
“I remember them coming to New York the first time, and John Lennon called me saying, ‘Ronnie, we don’t know what to do. We’re prisoners here.’ They were in either the Warwick or the Plaza Hotel. ‘You gotta come up and get us out of here.’ They didn’t know anybody in America.
“So me, Estelle and Nedra – the three Ronettes – would go up there. He said, ‘Please bring the 45 records.’ So we’d sit there on the floor and listen to records. We had the best time. I remember he got upset because the Supremes came in, because people came in just to take pictures with them.
“But they were our buddies; we were having fun. I remember George going, ‘Oh, no. We’ve got to take a picture.’ So they’d get up, leave us and come right back and sit down on the floor and continue our conversation about rock & roll.”
Spector and John almost dated
Although John was married and Spector was dating her producer, Phil Spector (her future husband), the pair flirted at that party in London.
“John took me into a room to show me the beautiful lights over London,” Spector told People. “I said, ‘Wow, it’s so beautiful.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, you are.'”
When John tried to take her to the bed, she remembered her boyfriend and stopped him. “I was young then, and I was seeing Phil. I didn’t want to kiss other guys and stuff,” Spector explained. So, Spector said, “We gotta go downstairs, John!”
John respected Spector’s wishes. He said, “Okay, I guess I lost on that one!” The incident bonded them instead of making things awkward. Then, John became her protector.
“He was so nice and polite,” she told People in 2017. “He’d take me to clubs, and he took me to Carnaby Street to get all the t-shirts. We didn’t know what was in London, so John was all, ‘Don’t worry, Ronnie: I will take you.’ And then at night they’d take us to clubs.
“I remember one night I was with John and he said, ‘Ronnie, sing a little bit of ‘Be My Baby’ in my ear.’ So I went, [full-voiced] ‘Be my little baby!’ And he almost passed out. I can’t sing low, I had to go all out. It blew his mind.”
Later, The Beatles asked The Ronettes to open for them on their 1966 world tour. Looking back, Spector said, “The Beatles named me Ronnie Spector. It was really the Beatles that said, ‘Veronica just doesn’t sound right on your records. Everybody knows her as Ronnie.'”