Ronnie Spector shares stories behind the songs
The inimitable girl-group icon — back with the excellent new album English Heart — shares incredible tales of her days with the Ronettes, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and more.
"Be My Baby," 1963
I was on tour with the Ronettes, opening for Joey Dee & the Starliters, when I heard the [final version of the song]. We were in bed watching Dick Clark's American Bandstand, half sleeping, and Clark says, "This is going to be the next record of the century!" And we hear "Be My Baby"! We jumped up, and we were, like, dizzy. [Then] we went for a swim. It was great.
"Earth Blues" with Jimi Hendrix, 1970
I met Jimi Hendrix before he became Jimi Hendrix. I was married [to producer Phil Spector] at the time, and he was in Europe doing Let It Be with the Beatles or something, so I came to New York. My sister called and said, "Hey, I'm at Jimi's, want to come over?" I'll never forget the girls hanging on his mattress, all beautiful and smoking cigarettes. Then he took me to Electric Lady [Studios] to sing on his record. The next morning the bell rings, I go to the door, and it was Jimi. He had his arm up on the door like, "Can I come in?" And I'm going, "I'm married!" And he says, "I left my tapes in your car." I couldn't believe Jimi Hendrix was in my doorway saying, "I left my tapes in your car last night."
"Try Some, Buy Some," 1971
I was friends with the Beatles, real friends — we'd sit on the floor at home and have finger sandwiches and play 45s. When I came to the U.K. to join [the band's] Apple Records, I didn't recognize George Harrison. It was during the Maharishi days, and George had the longest hair. He immediately started playing me this song, and I said, "George, I can't sing this kind of song!" He says, "I know, Ronnie. I wrote it, and I don't like it!" [The track was produced by Phil Spector.] It had all these strings and the arrangement was awful, [but] we were friends, so it wasn't like we could just shake hands and walk away. Later on, George recorded it, and he had my voice on it and his voice on it, answering each other. And after that came out, it became a fan favorite.