The Dark Past of The Ronettes and Phil Spector

The Dark Past of The Ronettes and Phil Spector

Ronnie Bennett Spector, Estelle Bennett, and Nedra Talley were a part of The Ronettes, a fierce, 60’s rock band disguised as a pop trio. After first performing in Joey Dee’s Peppermint Lounge, they immediately became popular and loved in the eyes of the public. They seemed like their lives were perfectly normal and everything you could dream of, but what if I told you that these smiley, bubbly girls actually had a cruel, abusive producer? This is the true story of influential music producer Phil Spector and The Ronettes.

In 1963, The Ronettes got signed by Phil Spector’s Philles Records and started making sweet music and successful albums with them. Phil Spector had been the creator of some of the Ronettes best songs, and he helped The Ronettes in their rise to glory with songs like “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You.” After a while, Phil had taken a special liking to Ronnie, and a beautiful romance eventually bloomed between the two of them; The pair officially got married five years later, on April 14, 1968. You’d think these love birds would be happy as clams with their marriage, but, in time, an unsettling darkness had slowly started to settle in on the wedded couple.

Once Phil’s popularity and fame started to diminish, his mental state did too, causing him to slowly become more and more overprotective of Ronnie over time. He started to abuse, torment, and even threaten Ronnie if she ever tried to leave him for a second. According to Phoenix New, “Music producer Phil Spector was said to have hidden his wife Ronnie’s shoes so that she couldn’t run away. He was rumored to have threatened his wife with a glass casket he kept in the house, saying that he would display her corpse in it if she attempted to escape.”

Phil had an unhealthy obsession with not letting Ronnie out of his grasp and treating his wife like an object. He’d set specific rules for Ronnie and would constantly make her feel unsafe more and more everyday. According to, “He installed intercoms in every room so he knew where she was, made her drive with a life-size doll that looked just [like] him (whenever she was allowed to leave), and threatened to have her killed if she left, among many other insane demands. Phil also made Ronnie give up what she loved most: singing. “For seven years, I didn’t go anywhere,” Spector said in a Rolling Stone interview. “I never saw a movie. I never did anything in California because everything was brought to me.” As she remained trapped in her house for 7 years, she grew depressed and started drinking. According to, “In 2000, in an interview with the New York Times, Ronnie tragically admitted: “I’d get drunk so I could go to rehab, just to get out of the house.” Poor Ronnie.

Now, the question everyone’s most likely asking is, “Did Ronnie ever escape?” The fortunate answer is yes, she managed to escape her husband, though it wasn’t easy. Ronnie planned a thorough escape plan with the help of her mother Beatrice for 3 whole days. In 1972, Ronnie escaped her and Phil’s mansion barefoot through a broken window with no belongings on her. Ronnie has since moved on, releasing her own solo album in 1980, and even getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007; She never wanted to retire from rock and roll. She loved it. 

Although Ronnie’s marriage with Phil was very traumatic for her, she’s happy to have had such a brillant, talented professional producing her music for her back then; She missed the good days before fame got to Phil’s head. Does this mean she forgives Phil?  No, obviously not, but she appreciated the old Phil that she fell in love with and made sweet memories with. I couldn’t imagine what was going through Ronnie’s head whilst married to Phil and trapped in his grasp. Nobody should have to go through that, but Ronnie did. Ronnie did and she most importantly, survived it.