Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Be My Little Baby...

Hello, Melismatic readers! I'm sorry I've been so distant over the past few days -- my job has been stealing the best of me. Stay tuned for more interviews from several new and promising artists (if you're an interested musician, please check out the link to the right regarding feature/interview/promotional opportunities), as well as a brand spanking new section giving you an inside look into my internship. However -- this is a little something that I never got the chance to talk about last week...

On February 11, 2009, one of the founding members of the 1960's girl group The Ronettes, Estelle Bennett, passed away. I feel as this is a blog about pop music, it is absolutely crucial to remember this group favorably, as they really set so many precedents and helped guide pop music into where it is today.

For those of you who aren't as familiar, The Ronettes was a three girl group, whose influence can clearly be marked on just about every girl group out now. The group was comprised of lead singer, Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett, her older sister Estelle, and their younger cousin Nedra Talley. They first formed back in 1959 New York City. They got their first big break after performing live at the Apollo Theatre that year as the Darling Sisters. Two years later, while waiting in line to see a concert, they were brought on stage after being mistaken as a group that had not appeared on the show. A string of offers followed.

Their big commercial success came in 1963 when producer-extraordinare Phil Spector (pre-crazy issues) walked in to their life. Through his genius new technique of vocal-layering production dubbed the "Wall of Sound", the Ronettes were transformed into household names. They stood out from a market flooded with girl groups thanks to their sexy, "bad girl" image, trademarked by their hair being piled up into beehives (a trick Amy Winehouse picked up), wearing heavy cat-eye black eyeliner (again...hello?) and instead of the typical long ballgowns, rocking shorter, tighter dresses that were more street fashion than coutoure fashion.

Ronnie went on to some solo success and married Phil Spector...which didn't last. Her biggest coup was when she sang the sample of The Ronette's biggest hit, "Be My Baby", for Eddie Money on his 80's hit classic, "Take Me Home Tonight" (which was later covered by my girls in Candy Coated Chaos).

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (which I totally have to visit, BTW) in 2004, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

The New York Times posted this interesting read about the life of the Ronettes, focusing on Estelle and her struggles with mental illness and anorexia. It's also chock full of tidbits I'm sure you didn't know, including that The Ronettes had the Rolling Stones open up for them in Europe in 1964. Yes, really. That's how fly them chicks were, and are. (Estelle even dated Beatle George Harrison and Stones-r Mick Jagger.) But it is the heartbreak of her story that draws me in, and I think it will for you, too.

Here is the quintessential girl group, singing their biggest hit. Estelle, you are missed.

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