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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ronnie Spector's Holiday Spirit 2014

The original "bad girl" of rock & roll, Ronnie Spector, returned to BB King's last night to spread Christmas cheer to a full and very appreciative crowd. At 71, she still has the voice of an adolescent; forever the lead singer of the '60s girl group, The Ronettes.

Amid some humorous patter as well as some bitter memories of ex-hubby Phil Spector, Ronnie's show mixed Christmas numbers with others from her long song book. Like Darlene Love (whom I will see on December 27), Ronnie's identified with the Christmas holiday as both artists were prominently featured on the 1963 Phil Spector Christmas album. That record was originally a failure because it was, unfortunately, released the day of the Kennedy assassination. However, re-released in the '70s, it gradually received its overdue recognition and its recordings have become a holiday staple.

In her concert this year, Ronnie sang "Frosty the Snowman" (sending wintry chills up our spines), "Sleigh Ride" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," but also numbers from her Best Christmas Ever e.p. These included a cover of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers' "It's Christmas Once Again" and the titular song.

Abetted by a dynamic band and back-up vocalists, the singer also served up classic Ronettes like "Baby, I Love You," "The Best Part of Breaking Up," "You Baby" and "Be My Baby." Oh, baby, baby, baby! She paid tribute to the late Amy Winehouse (a Ronnie fan) by singing "Back to Black," and delighted the house by covering The Carpenters' "Yesterday Once More" and John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." She also did a few solo classics like "You Can't Wrap Your Arms Around a Memory."

My only criticism is that this show couldn't go on all night. It's a total holiday delight that Ronnie's been doing at BB King's since 1988, so don't miss her next year.

Oh, and by the way, Ronnie Bennett Spector Greenfield converted to Judaism decades ago.

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