Are you a fan of the Ronettes? The ultimate girl group of the 60s was formed by the singer Ronnie Spector. The group made worldwide rock ’n’ roll hits like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain.” Lead singer Ronnie Spector married the producer of the Ronettes, Phill Spector, back in 1968. Phil was the sole manager and producer of the group throughout the 1960s. However, when Phil’s career took a downgrade, the marriage of Ronnie Spector became an actual horror movie. The memoir that she wrote later on in her life reveals all the painful details of her horrible marriage. Join Facts Verse to learn about how the marriage of Ronnie Spector almost killed her.
Ronnie was born in 1943 in New York City. She was a mixed child, with an Irish father and her mother from African-American and Cherokee descent. Back then it was not so common to be a mixed child. That is why she suffered a lot from bullying. Ronnie also had an older sister, Estelle. Their father left the family when they were just little kids. Eventually, her childhood struggles and exotic looks became the fueling force for her successful career.
From a very young age, Ronnie loved to perform in their living room. Later on, she formed a group with her older sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley Ross. The group was named “The Ronettes”, an abbreviation of their names. They started playing small gigs in different parts of New York City. By 1961, they signed with Colpix Records and released their double-sided singles. Those singles were “I Want a Boy”/”What’s So Sweet About Sweet Sixteen” and “I’m Gonna Quit While I’m Ahead”/”My Guiding Angel.” However, they didn’t achieve much success through these releases. To continue their career, they focused on working in clubs as dancers. They developed a style around bold clothing and extravagent make-up.
By 1963, the Ronettes still had not found much success with Colpix Records. This is when Ronnie Spector and her bandmates decided to make a bold decision. They cold-called the legendary producer Phil Spector. He was so surprised and impressed by the compatibility of Ronnie’s voice with his “wall of sound” technique. He used this technique to write songs for the most influential artists, including Tina Turner and the Beatles. Phil signed the Ronettes immediately after the first audition. The overall vibe of the group was described as “bad girls listening to hard rock.”
Throughout his career, Phil wrote 28 singles for the Ronettes. Under his direct supervision, particularly from 1963 to 1966, the Ronettes enjoyed one of the most successful periods of their careers. They joined the Beatles for their U.S. tour at the band’s request. The girls also played on military bases for American soldiers, who were said to have gone crazy over their provocative and sexy outfits.
Despite the tremendous success, luminous parties and chart-breaking hits, Phil Spector’s career started to decline by the end of 1966. With the retirement of their hitmaker, the Ronettes disbanded. However, Ronnie Spector had no intention of burning bridges with Phil. They fell in love while working together and got married on April 14, 1968. Ronnie moved in with Phil Spector into his Los Angeles mansion. But her marriage turned out to be very bitter later on. Before we get into every detail of the traumas that Ronnie Spector went through, make sure to like this video and subscribe to Facts Verse so you don’t miss a video!
Phil Spector was hugely affected by the failures of his career. As a result, he experienced tremendous stress and deep depression. Later on, he started to display some symptoms of severe bipolar disorder. Ronnie wrote everything about her horrible married life in her 1990 autobiography entitled “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette.” In her book, Ronnie describes her husband’s scary and inadequate behavior that started at the very beginning of their matrimony. She recalls how she had to hide in the bathroom with her mom during her wedding day, because Phil was drunk and had an argument about money with Ronnie. He accused her of marrying him to get his money. Ronnie specifically described him as a coyote with bulging eyes and saliva dripping down the sides of his mouth. Understandably, her mother became quite concerned about her choice of a husband.
After they were officially married, Phil controlled every second of Ronnie’s life. She was even unable to move around her own house freely. As she describes, she felt like a complete prisoner in a multi-million dollar house. And even if their relationship was fine for a short while, Phil still seemed very weird and eccentric.
To claim his control over Ronnie’s life, Phil bought an inflatable version of himself and made Ronnie keep it in the passenger seat. He also forbade her to speak to groups like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones about work-related questions, as he firmly believed that Ronnie was cheating on him. However, Ronnie says one of the scariest things was that Phil revealed he kept a glass coffin in the basement and frequently threatened to kill her if she ever decided to leave him. He even went so far as to take away Ronnie’s shoes so that she couldn’t leave home.
The couple tried to get pregnant for several years, but all of their efforts failed. Phil and Ronnie ultimately decided to adopt a mixed-race child named Donte. Unfortunately, he also faced a lot of his father’s crazy behavior. Later in his life, Donte revealed that he was often locked up in his room with no opportunity to go to the toilet.
However, treating his child in such a brutal way was not Phil’s only flaw. One year, he got Ronnie a shocking Christmas present: twins. He adopted two boys named Gary and Louis without asking for her opinion or permission. The worst part is that adopting the twins had nothing to do with his own love for children. Instead, having more children was a tactic to keep Ronnie in the house. All of these events drove Ronnie to depression, and she began to use drugs to cope. She even attempted suicide on multiple occasions. During a particularly bad stint, she deliberately overdosed to stay in the hospital for a few days and enjoy a reprieve from her husband.
Despite the hardships that she had to go through, Ronnie Spector managed to produce a record with the Beatles called “Try Some, Buy Some.” Sadly, the single did not revive her career the way she had imagined it. After returning to the United States from England, she tried to get away from Phil Spector several times. Finally, on June 12, 1972, she was able to run away from the house. In her book, she describes how Phil went crazy and again hid her shoes, thinking she could not leave the house barefoot. He again threatened to kill her if she ever thought of divorcing him. Then Ronnie’s mother came to the rescue and started hitting Phil and shouting at him. Eventually, Ronnie and her mother escaped the house, taking Donte with them and leaving all of their belongings behind. The next day, they went to a divorce lawyer, but the nightmare still wasn’t over for Ronnie Spector.
During the divorce process, Phil threatened to hire an assassin if she didn’t sign the custody for the twins. Finally, after several months of deliberation, the divorce was finalized. Then, just when Ronnie thought she was free, she received a call from Phil. He claimed that there were going to be 6 hitmen in the crowd at her next performance. Phil said he promised to give a million dollars bonus to the person who finished the job. Interestingly, Ronnie ended up too drunk to perform that night, and the concert was canceled.
Immediately after her divorce from Phil, Ronnie Spector tried to bring her career back on track. Even following a tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, she still wasn’t able to bring back the fame and success that she enjoyed back in the 1960s. In 1978, she finally moved on from her traumatic marriage and began dating Jonathan Greenfield, a theater worker. They got married in 1982 and are still together to this day.
Although Ronnie moved on from Phil, he did not stop his problematic behavior.
In 2003, Phil Spector allegedly killed American actress Lana Clarkson in his Los Angeles mansion. He served a 19-year sentence in prison for this murder until he died in January 2021 from COVID-19 complications. Even though Ronnie Spector had to go through many horrors because of her ex-husband, she still paid tribute to Phil after his death. She wrote on her Instagram about how falling in love with Phil was like a fairytale to her, and their endless love
inspired the magical music they made together
That wraps up the story about the violent marriage of Ronnie Spector and how she managed to survive through all of the real-life horrors. Now we’d like to hear from you: Is Ronnie & Phil Spector’s marriage the worst celebrity marriage in history? Leave us a comment and tell us the wildest celebrity marriage you can remember! And don’t forget to click the like button and subscribe to Facts Verse for more videos like this!