Soundtrack Of My Life: Ronnie Spector

In honour of the late Ronettes icon, we revisit our 2016 interview

The first album I bought

Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers – ‘At The London Palladium’

“It was the best. I was, like, 13 years old and I’d never heard ‘live’ music. I knew every word on that whole album by heart – every single word. Frankie Lymon was definitely everything to me.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers – ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’

“Oh my God – well, first of all there was Frankie Lymon’s voice. There was something about his voice that pierced me. His diction was so amazing, I couldn’t understand how he could speak that clearly. He wrote that song, which made me more interested in him. If it wasn’t for Frankie Lymon, I wouldn’t be talking to you. He influenced my whole life.”

The song that reminds me of starting The Ronettes

The Shirelles – ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’

“In my teens I heard ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ and then I heard The Chantels sing ‘Maybe’ and I said, ‘I wanna sing. I want a girl group!’ I’d started the group with my sister and my cousin a few years before that – we were slowly getting our act together. Originally there were five Ronettes, but their parents didn’t want them to sing rock ’n’ roll.”

The first gig I went to

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Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers

“Again, it was Frankie Lymon. Nedra [Talley, from The Ronettes] and I went to Philadelphia with my aunt and uncle. In those days they had a dance contest before the show and whoever won got free tickets. Nedra and I won! They were so great. Frankie Lymon had these dance movements that just blew me away. I just loved everything about it.”

The first song I remember hearing

Hank Williams – ‘Jambalaya (On The Bayou)’

“When I was real little I remember going to my grandmother’s house and I’d sing on the coffee table. It was ‘Jambalaya’ by Hank Williams, but I never sang the lyrics right. My family, cousins and aunts and uncles would all wait for little Ronnie to sing.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Michael Jackson – ‘Billie Jean’

“I could dance to that all night. It’s a song I really love. It’s the beat – if you want to dance, you have to have a beat.”

The song I do at karaoke

The Ronettes – ‘Baby, I Love You’

“I never liked karaoke – I was never a fan. But one time I did it because my friend’s mother had just died. He said, ‘Can you please come? I’m so lonely.’ My husband and I went over to this karaoke bar and for some reason they recognised me, so they put ‘Baby, I Love You’ on the karaoke machine. I got up and sang. I kinda liked it!”

The song that made me want to make music

Little Richard – ‘Rip It Up’

“Back in the ’50s you didn’t have a lot of groups. I was a kid living with my parents – they controlled the radio. They’d listen to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole and it was so boring.”

This interview first appeared in a June 2016 issue of NME magazine

 

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