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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Rose of Spanish Harlem: Ronnie Spector at City Winery

My autographed photo ready for framing
I've seen Ronnie Spector on many occasions but never has she put on a show as fantastic as the one she did tonight at the City Winery NYC.  She now has the rights to sing the entire Ronettes songbook, which has not always been the case. Apparently, ex-husband Phil Spector struck a deal with her which, I assume, came with the stipulation that she stop bad-mouthing him on stage because, oddly, his name never came up once during this performance.

With an expert band of five and two back-up singers (who also played additional guitar and tambourine, man), Ronnie entered smiling and shaking her shelf; one that Bette Midler would envy. Ms S was otherwise trim, slim and still girlishly coquettish, working her peplum (over tight black slacks) like a skirt. Yesterday was her birthday. She is 72 and looks 25 years younger.

Her voice has lost none of its adolescent timbre as obvious on her first song, "Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love?" She began her patter by telling us that she, her sister Estelle and cousin Nedra began as models doing the hula in the window of midtown's Hawaii Kai.

Ronnie and Matt at stage door.
Her set included the Carole King/ Gerry Goffin "Is This What I Get for Loving You, Baby?", "Do I Love You?", a sensational version of "Paradise", the Phil Spector arrangement for "Chapel of Love", "Walking in the Rain" and the wonderful "The Best Part of Breaking Up".

Rare clips and photos of The Ronettes were shared on the big-screen monitors to each side of the stage. The videos of her on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and Shindig were priceless.

She first finished off with The Rosettes' # 1 hit, "Be My Baby" after her version of Johnny Thunder's "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory". She told us she had a residency in a NJ gay bar when Thunder saw her perform, introduced himself and later wrote wrote this song for her. By the way, I saw Ronnie turn straight men gay tonight as they broke out into fabulous hand gesturing any drag queen would envy, listening to their siren sing.

Ronnie mistily dedicated her closing number, "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered" to her late sister, Estelle. Ronnie tours the UK in November and returns to City Winery NYC to do her Christmas shows this year. Reserve your seats early. Guaranteed to sell out.


  1. Great read I felt like a had a night out with Ronnie too.....

  2. Hi DJ BB and wish I could've been there. BTW, where you said "I saw Ronnie turn straight men gay tonight as they broke out into fabulous hand gesturing any drag queen would envy......."? Well, I RESEMBLE that remark (lol)! As always, another great Article.....keep-up your good work!