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  1. #1

    Could have the Ronettes been bigger?

    I always wonder what if the Ronettes wised up to Phil Spector around 1965 and went somewhere else. Could they have been bigger? I always felt like they could have been had Phil not held them back. Nedra said they were begging him to release better material on them but he wouldn't. I guess either way Nedra would have ended up getting replaced anyway as she grew disinterested in being a Ronette after she met her husband. Ronnie should have been a much bigger superstar than she was. I've seen her several times over the years and she is an amazing entertainer. Such great energy.

  2. #2
    I say that with the right producer (and the right set of songs), The Ronettes could've been a bigger group with more hits. One thing to consider is that the 'girl group era' that they represented so well was on it's way out in 1965. Anyone that could work with The Ronettes (other than Spector) would have to be able to move them in a more sophisticated direction (like the way Motown did with The Marvelettes).

  3. #3
    I'm not sure about 'bigger', but my beloved Ronettes should have at least lasted longer. The factor that would/could have held the group back was the same factor that gave them so much character: Ronnie's voice. I love, Love, LOVE Ronnie's voice, but I think she's somewhat limited in the type of material that suits her natural voice.

  4. #4
    I agree, Ronnie's voice was somewhat limited but boy was it special. Estelle had a similar singing voice but not as distinct. The Ronettes probably could have played the Copa if they wanted. Ronnie said the three of them harmonized so well (she attributes this to the fact that they were related so they had a good blend) and you do hear it on some songs like Keep On Dancing. And then I could see them progressing towards a more soulful sophisticated sound as Eddie pointed out.

  5. #5
    My main intro to them was via the 'Phil Spector Greatest Hits' album of the late 70s and I was always surprised they didn't have much more output than the songs on this album.

    I loved Ronnie's voice and remember the thrill of hearing Eddie Money's 'Take Me Home Tonight' for the first time on radio when it was released in the late 80s.

    I'm not sure they would have fitted in to a Copa type environment. They were no Supremes and hadn't had the benefit Maxine Powell schooling. I can remember Ellie Greenwich in a documentary saying they weren't very lady-like.

    But anyway, when Phil pulled the plug, they were done. And not even the help of the E-Street Band, The Ramones and others could help Ronnie's solo career in later years.

    I was very surprised to see in the Aussie charts over Christmas, 'Sleigh Ride' by the Ronettes somehow made it into the top 40.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    I love, Love, LOVE Ronnie's voice, but I think she's somewhat limited in the type of material that suits her natural voice.
    I agree. Her most recent solo album contained a solid selection of material that was well suited to her voice. Other stuff that she's done after the Ronettes has sort of been hit and miss for me, like her "Unfinished Business" album.

    It's funny you started this thread, FloyJoy, as I coincidentally had this very same discussion with my husband yesterday about Ronnie Spector and whether the Ronettes would have had success, had they never met Phil Spector. We both agreed that they wouldn't have. I think they had the right formula, akin to The Pointer Sisters and Richard Perry, and The Supremes and Holland-Dozier-Holland.

    I think few people have truly understood Ronnie's sound, because it is so unique. I have doubts that they would have found success after Phil, even if they had safely made the break from him.
    Last edited by carlo; 01-17-2021 at 10:33 AM.

  7. #7
    It has just been announced that Phil Spector has died at 81

  8. #8
    Ronnie was the one who was going to take them somewhere regardless. On their biggest songs, usually Ronnie was the only Ronette singing on them. And on the songs that Nedra and Estelle were on, you can't pick them out due several other voices in the mix with them.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    I can remember Ellie Greenwich in a documentary saying they weren't very lady-like.
    I think you may be conflating the Ronettes with the Shangri-Las.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by smallworld View Post
    I think you may be conflating the Ronettes with the Shangri-Las.
    Found the quote:

    Ellie: "I guess the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes in a different way were the tough girl groups"

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    Found the quote: Ellie: "I guess the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes in a different way were the tough girl groups"
    Thanks for looking up the quote.
    Last edited by smallworld; 01-18-2021 at 08:10 PM.

  12. #12
    Ronnie Spector had a nice tonal quality but she lacked the range and the power. Her vibrato was always out of control. I don't think any other record company would have been interested in them. The last time I heard Ronnie sing it was obvious that the chain smoking had taken a toll on her voice. She is a legend and deserves that, they worked hard. Phil obviously sabotaged their career to keep Ronnie at home. I read her book, it was a tough life.

  13. #13
    When did you see her Rick? I saw her in NYC with my family in 2014 and it was probably the best show we had ever been to in our lives. Ronnie's voice was in top form that night, it was like we were watching her in 1963. And at that time she was 71 and her onstage energy was unreal. She was just a little fireball. My sister saw her a couple of years back and she said it wasn't as good as when we saw her in 2014. She didn't exactly say why though.

  14. #14
    Nedra came up on stage with Ronnie at one of her shows in recent years. Wish I could have been at that show. Would love to see the two of them perform together. Nice to see blood is thicker than water. I think for years there was some awkwardness between them. Ronnie also did a nice tribute to Estelle when I last saw her.

  15. #15
    I think the Ronettes would have been a much bigger act if Ronnie had not gotten personally involved with Phil.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    I think the Ronettes would have been a much bigger act if Ronnie had not gotten personally involved with Phil.
    That could be, but also Spector's general insanity had lead to a diminishment of airplay of the other Philles acts as well. I don't think there's a definitive answer to why the cycle of Spector-produced hits was so brief - a year and 5 months! - and the last top-20 hit other than the Righteous Brothers was "Be My Baby" in 8/63 ...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    That could be, but also Spector's general insanity had lead to a diminishment of airplay of the other Philles acts as well. I don't think there's a definitive answer to why the cycle of Spector-produced hits was so brief - a year and 5 months! - and the last top-20 hit other than the Righteous Brothers was "Be My Baby" in 8/63 ...
    Phil did not separate the artists from himself. He saw them as minor contributors to his creations. As Ellie Greenwich once said he could make whoever he wanted to be the Crystals or Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. And because he made a lot of enemies in the music industry, the acts that were signed to him suffered as a result. I always felt songs like Do I Love You and Best Part Of Breaking Up should have charted higher than they did. And Walking In the Rain should have been a number one.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    Phil did not separate the artists from himself. He saw them as minor contributors to his creations. As Ellie Greenwich once said he could make whoever he wanted to be the Crystals or Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. And because he made a lot of enemies in the music industry, the acts that were signed to him suffered as a result. I always felt songs like Do I Love You and Best Part Of Breaking Up should have charted higher than they did. And Walking In the Rain should have been a number one.
    Interesting, and agreed about the songs you mentioned (WITR is my personal favorite) and can add that virtually every single issued by Philles after BMB should have at least top 20'd -

  19. #19
    Phil would not buy chart positions.Alot of those records were really bigger hits then their chart positions would have you think.The business side could be very shady.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    Phil would not buy chart positions.Alot of those records were really bigger hits then their chart positions would have you think.The business side could be very shady.
    That's interesting, and certainly believable. I wonder what slowed the lp output?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    That's interesting, and certainly believable. I wonder what slowed the lp output?
    They definitely had enough material for a second album. And some real good ones too that went unreleased like I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine and Girls Can Tell.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    They definitely had enough material for a second album. And some real good ones too that went unreleased like I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine and Girls Can Tell.
    YES!! I love both those cuts. I have several late 70's lp Spector compilations and both those songs are included; both were top-20 worthy.

  23. #23
    How do you guys feel about Nedra and Estelle not being on a lot of the songs? Motown fans seem to be miffed with the Andantes replacing the Supremes, Vandellas, etc. But I don't hear people talking much about Cher, Darlene, Sonny, Bobby, etc singing in place of the Ronettes. I've heard just Nedra and Estelle live and I'm glad they chose to go with other singers on the recordings.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    How do you guys feel about Nedra and Estelle not being on a lot of the songs? Motown fans seem to be miffed with the Andantes replacing the Supremes, Vandellas, etc. But I don't hear people talking much about Cher, Darlene, Sonny, Bobby, etc singing in place of the Ronettes. I've heard just Nedra and Estelle live and I'm glad they chose to go with other singers on the recordings.
    Interesting question. I think the case of the Supremes is more 'personal' because the group was higher profile, lasted longer (and therefore became more identifiable) and because much of the time the non-lead vocals on Supremes records were 'smaller'. In the case of the Ronettes the backing vocals were so huge it was more obvious that there was vocal supplementation. I would have preferred Mary-Florence-Cindy be prominent on all the Supremes recordings, with a bit o' supplementation as needed; I don't find fault with MFC for not being on the recordings (it was not their choice) but I do think it a bit of foul play on the part of Motown-at-large.

  25. #25
    Yeah I also feel like Mary and Flo had more identifiable voices where as with Estelle and Nedra, I really couldn't tell you. Going by Ronnie's book they were on Do I Love You, Best Part Of Breakin Up and Chapel of Love. Also Nedra has said they were on the Christmas tracks. I also believe they're on I Can Hear Music which was recorded in NYC. They're on some of the later released tracks like Everything Under The Sun and Keep On Dancing where they sing in harmony with Ronnie.

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