Cover Image: Be My Baby

Be My Baby

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This was a fascinating book about the life of Rock and Roll legend, Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes.  The word "survivor" comes to mind when I think about Ms. Spector.  She had many obstacles in her life, and yet she persevered through them all.  This is a story that is truly worth reading.  I highly recommend it to other readers of memoirs.
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

As a fan of most genres of music, but not knowing much about The Ronettes, I was very interested in reading more about women in the industry at the time. Ronnie's memoir was even more than that.

I will be honest in saying that I did not know much about The Ronettes outside of the single "Be My Baby" nor did I know anything about Ronnie Spector's life but I was very aware of her name. In her memoir she makes sure you get to know her and not just the comfortable happiness people love to hear but the darkness of what life was like for her in early 20s, 30s. This is not just a memoir speaking about a group girl from the 60s but Ronnie telling her life story. 

The story starts as most memoirs do with Ronnie telling us where she grew up, her love of music and making her cousin and sister sing with her in the living room. Luckily, the group they formed and the dream they had came to fruition. The Ronettes played shows with such big artists - namely one of them being James Brown. These three ladies really made it and it was clear throughout this memoir the effect of losing such admiration, but mostly the opportunity to do what she loves for so long, took a major toll on Ronnie for decades.

The music producer for the Ronettes was Phil Spector whom Ronnie later married. It seems that that is when things really went downhill for the group and the successes became few and far between. It was absolutely gut-wrenching to read the accounts of abuse that Ronnie went through living with this man for so long, even after was an absolute nightmare. It was hard to read for a lot of reasons and a good chunk of the book talked about her abusive marriage to Phil. I applaud her for telling her truth and being willing to talk so candidly about such awful experiences. I can only imagine it was cathartic to finally get it out.

Luckily, her life did have a lot of ups as well and you get to read all about them later on in the memoir. Mrs. Greenfield (yes, she did re-marry) lived a hell of a life and survived it as well. I was saddened to find out that Mrs. Greenfield passed away in January of 2022, hence the book being re-released. Ronnie Spector (as was her stage name and what she is most well-known by) is a hell of a woman and I genuinely recommend people get to know her.
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Ronnie Spector doesn't hold anything back in this memoir. I'd long been a fan of the Ronettes, but had no idea of the personal things she dealt with behind the music. From her whirlwind rise to fame to her tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector, she gets honest with the reader in a way that most celebrities don't. I'm grateful she shared her story with the world.
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This memoir by Ronnie Spector starts off really well. She talks about her childhood in a large extended family of multiple race mixtures. Her father wasn’t around much, but her mother took good care of her girls and watched out for them. Those years in Spanish Harlem leading up to the formation of the Ronettes were exciting, and the creation and activities of the Ronettes even more exciting. The group consisted of her, her older sister Estelle, and their cousin Nedra. Girl groups were popular in the early ‘60s, and no one wanted success and popularity more than Ronnie Spector.

The next major stage in her life and in this book was about her relationship and marriage to Phil Spector. He was a genius record producer, but a mentally ill person with mommy issues, who obviously hated women, regardless of any claims that he did not. According to Ronnie Spector, she was a prisoner in their mansion, and turned to alcohol out of boredom and unhappiness. They were able to adopt a newborn, as she tells it, simply because they were rich, and Phil Spector later adopted 5-year-old twins, saying they were a Christmas present. Ms. Spector had no knowledge he did that; she was never interviewed for the adoption by anyone; they were just there playing in their front yard one day.

Yes, there was no shortage of insanity at the Spector mansion. That’s where the book starts to drag. There were two many years described of emotional abuse and drinking. At one point, I wanted to stop reading and just leave the unhappy couple far, far behind, not caring what happened to either of them. I kept reading, though, and by the time the twins arrived, Ronnie Spector was ready to flee. She did one day with her mother guiding the way, barefoot no less, so Phil Spector would think she wouldn’t be leaving the grounds. More mental illness and drinking was described after the escape, but no one was more persistent than Ronnie Specter in having a comeback. Nothing made her happier than singing and performing in front of an appreciative audience. With the help of a new caring husband, who wasn’t insane, she also ended up with a happy married life and Irish twin sons.

This Kindle version of the memoir is a re-release of the 1990 edition, but includes additional words Ms. Specter penned in January 2022, the month she died of cancer. Phil Spector was found guilty of murdering a woman in 2009 and died in prison in January 2021. It was no surprise he killed a woman, but a bit of a surprise he actually was convicted, since he seemed to get away with hatred, cruelty and gun waving all of his adult life. Ronnie Specter addresses this somewhat in her final pages, when she talks of how someone seen as a genius is often not judged the way a non-genius is judged. She, too, obviously, was so impressed by his music making abilities, and desired fame so badly, that she stuck with him all those years, a prisoner in a mansion with gates and guards. The warden eventually got locked away, though, while the prisoner eventually freed herself, both physically and psychologically.

P.S. I don't care what anyone says, "Do I Love You?" is the best song the Ronettes ever released, not "Be My Baby". :)
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What a raw, raucous ride of a story by a superstar singer whose private life was partially  a hell of her own making and partially a reaction to an abusive relationship. Loved the many name-dropping stories and her triumph over alcoholism and abuse. A fast read.Thanks to #NetGalley and #BeMyBaby for this advanced digital copy.
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I did not realize that this was a reissue of a previous edition! If you have any interest in music history you will enjoy reading about Ronnie's life and experiences in the 60's music scene, the Ronnettes experience with Phil Spector, as well as her own issues with addiction.
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I strongly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read the original edition published in 1990. I own that original book and thoroughly enjoyed it when it first came out. I enjoyed reading it again but was somewhat disappointed that only a short postscript has been added to the original book. I was hoping for more details about the past thirty years of her life. Sadly, Ronnie Spector died on January 12, 2022, just as this book was completed. Highly recommended

Thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Co. for a review copy.
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The world lost a great artist in January of 2022 when Ronnie Spector passed away.  I was so glad to have the opportunity to read her memoir which was recently reissued and is quite a compelling read.  She had quite a rough road as an artist, a woman, a mother yet in the end she found happiness and was able to fulfill all three of those identities.  One of the sayings that came to mind as I was reading was "Don't meet your heroes" - in this case Frankie Lymon and Phil Spector - they only end up disappointing you.  There has been a lot written about Phil Spector's erratic and abusive behavior and what surprised me is how much she loved and admired him and it took awhile for her to see him as the abuser and manipulator he was.  Some of my favorite passages were moments like her mom in the kitchen making scrambled eggs for the Rolling Stones in her kitchen, hanging with David Bowie and John Lennon or her moments with true friends and later with her husband and children.  This book is a memoir and also highlights the exploitation of women in music (she had to sue later to get paid back royalties for her songs).  She is also candid about her alcoholism throughout as a way to cope with depression and pain.  I am really glad I read this book -- because it is a testament of a survivor who did live happily ever after. Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt & Company for providing a preview copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This is simply, a very good, full circle memoir on the life of Ronnie Spector. She writes directly to and for the reader. It’s as I if she is sitting down and conversing with a friend. There are moments of disbelief, sadness, happiness and her candor is refreshing.
Life with Phil Spector was not easy and there were horrible moments throughout their marriage and yet she still credits him with her success and admires him for his talent. This was very evident, especially in the early days of her career. She does not ridicule or deface him in any way but takes the higher road.
Ronnie had her own addiction with alcohol , mainly to cope with her controlling, jealous husband. With that, long suffering bouts of depression and yet she rose above it all. 
The highs, lows, chart topping hits, friendships with the Beatles, Darlene Love, Cher and so many more fill the pages and paint a very detailed portrait of this survivor.
Ronnie will always have one of the most unique voices ever recorded. In this book, her voice takes on a different tone, one of truth, one of strength and one to be admired.
Thank you NetGalley and Henry Holt & Co. for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review.
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What a shame Ms. Spector won't be with us to see the re-release of this classic rock memoir. Hopefully, a whole new generation will get to know her story and discover her music. She was one tough customer and had a voice like no other. This book is a must for fans of '60s music or rock history in general.
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This was so good! I was never a fan of Ms Spector, but I love a great book about music. Now I will have to go search out some of her music. She tells a wonderful story....as if you were sitting and listening to a friend. Wonderful!
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My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book. 

If you're  a fan of 60s music this is for you about Ronnie's rise to fame,abusive first marriage to Phil Spector, and later finding happiness in her second marriage.   Really enjoyed.
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Written in 1990, and re-released in 2022, this book is an admirable chronological account of the rise of Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, and the control Phil Spector had over their rise and eventual fall. Interest has been rekindled likely because of the recent demise of Ronnie Spector in January, 2022, a loss to the music world.

What I found a little disconcerting is why Ronnie Spector was not only unable to see Phil Spector for the controlling, narcissist that he was, but that she made excuses for his behavior while it occurred. Those of us who have been in relationships like this wanted desperately to yell at her to get out because we could predict what would probably happen to her. And it did. People rarely see this kind of behavior until it's too late, though.

Phil Spector was a troubled man on countless levels, and we see the early manifestations of this in the book in the way he treated Ronnie. How she survived is as much a mystery as it is a miracle. But she did survive, especially after she managed to escape his madness. If you know anything about Phil Spector, you know that others weren't as lucky as Ronnie was. 

She loved him for his musical acumen and for what he did for her career, as much as for the sake of love itself. But she made excuses for Phil, and then made her own way in the world after him. I enjoyed learning about her life, albeit in terms that were probably cleaned up a little for publication. It's hard to believe the tenor of some of the conversations that took place between Ronnie and members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other musical giants. It was almost as if a child was reciting what took place. I have no reason to doubt that these meetings and conversations took place, only the almost childlike retelling of them. The other side of the coin is that Ronnie had a very... let's call it "eventful" life. She went looking for love in some of the wrong places. A lot.

But Ronnie was, by her own admission, someone who always had someone taking care of her, and so she never had a reason to really grow up, until those safety nets fell away. 

Reading this book, it's easier to understand why Ronnie Spector's name has been on peoples' tongues for generations. Her talent was nonpareil, her longevity, either in the middle of all the action or on the periphery of stardom, was the product of her practice of never turning down a job, regardless of how small it seemed. Ronnie Spector was everywhere for generations.

Ronnie Spector had a voice like no other, and it's unfortunate that many will realize how very good she was at what she did, only now that she is gone from our midst.
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Be My Baby by Ronnie Spector has been called the best rock autobiography of all time and this new updated edition only adds to the wonderful story. Thankfully she had finished her revisions and her Postscript before she passed away. Like so often, she gave us all a gift.

Parts of this book can be tremendously difficult to read. Her relationship with Phil Spector obviously being the most difficult. It will make you angry, sad, and so many other feelings in between. But don't let her difficulties in life influence how you view the book. This is a wonderful read, almost conversational in tone, and what would you want her to do? Gloss over the abuse so the book would fit better with your vapid desire for just reading music industry anecdotes? She gives us her life, appreciate it in all of its highs and lows.

I am under the impression from things I've read and people I've spoken with that as time has gone on most people remember her for one of two things: the Ronettes singles or her horrific marriage to Phil. This book really fills in the gaps so that you not only get a better view of the public Ronnie Spector but you also meet the person, the human being, who had to juggle all of the public perceptions.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in music, particularly rock era music. This is also an excellent read for those who simply enjoy autobiographies. You can't truly call yourself a fan of rock, especially of the major groups of the time (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys) if the name Ronnie Spector is just a peripheral name to you. You may like the groups but you aren't truly a fan of the music if you don't know and appreciate the influences. This book will bring you into the next level.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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What a life and what a legacy. The trauma and the triumphs are all documented in harrowing detail with beautiful insight and reflection. A must read!
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Five Stars

Ronnie Spector was never on my radar as a point of interest, except indirectly.  As a huge Beatles fan, last year I read a new Beatles book which recounted a story about John Lennon pursuing Ronnie romantically when The Beatles first took America by storm in 1964.  I'm also a big Beach Boys fan, and leader Brian Wilson was obsessed by The Ronettes' Phil Spector produced megahit "Be My Baby" and considered it the most perfect pop song.  I also knew that Ronnie was married to Phil Spector and that he was a nut case.  This was recounted in various Beatles books as they employed this producer and his wall of sound techniques to rescue their shabby "Let it Be" recordings.  John Lennon and George Harrison also used him to produce their solo albums.  He was known to brandish a gun in the recording studio.  Phil Spector was also convicted in later years of shooting/murdering actress Lana Clarkson.  So, I finally decided to request an arc of this book in the hope of reading a good story.  Well, it was quite an interesting ride!

This book was originally published in 1990, but is now being re-released with an updated Epilogue chapter that was only fine tuned weeks ago in January 2022.  This is especially poignant because Ronnie Spector died just a week ago.  How wonderful that this musical icon resurrected her memoir from 30 years ago to bring it full circle at the apex of her life.  This is touted as one of the greatest musical autobiographies, and I now see why.  I plowed through this within a few days-unheard of for me.  Ronnie unabashedly told the story of her rise to fame, horrendous marriage to producer Phil Spector, struggles with alcohol addiction and depression, career longevity and its challenges, romantic dalliances, etc.  Her prose is free flowing, honest and easy and such a pleasure to read.  This is one of the best rock biographies I have read.  It's like Ronnie left behind a gift for us all.

Thank you to the publisher Henry Holt and Co. for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.
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Thank you NetGalley for the eARC. This book was so wonderful. I have loved this woman's voice my whole life. I was so curious how her life with "that man" was before the divorce and i am so sorry she didnt get the comeback she deserved. Us women know how it is when a man holds you back. I recommend this book to anyone has ever sang "be my little baby"!
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