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Issue Date: January 2010

Rockin’ Ronnie

Matt Tullis
A month after Ronnie Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the fellow members of her ’60s pop group, the Ronettes, she traveled to Cleveland to see the museum that honored her.

“I freaked out,” Spector says when recalling the rush of emotion the visit unleashed. “I’m still shaking today.”

This month, Spector will return to Cleveland for the first time since that 2007 trip. She’ll perform at the Beachland Ballroom on Jan. 22 in support of her album, The Last of the Rock Stars, a collection of songs that was 12 years in the making.

“So many people have passed me by as I do my thing,” Spector says. “But I never gave up, and I never stopped working.”

The Ronettes, which featured Spector on lead vocals, rose to stardom from New York’s Spanish Harlem neighborhood in the early 1960s. From September 1963 through December 1964, the female trio produced five Top 40 singles, including “Be My Baby,” which was later immortalized for a new generation in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

The group befriended the Beatles and the Rolling Stones along the way, and Spector (formerly known as Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett) eventually married legendary music producer Phil Spector, who originally signed the Ronettes to his Philles label in 1963. The couple divorced in 1974 after six years of marriage.

The Last of the Rock Stars is Ronnie Spector’s first new U.S. release in more than 20 years. She co-produced the album, which features guitar work from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards. Patti Smith makes a cameo as well. “People came to me and wanted to be on my album,” Spector says.

Far from slowing down at age 66, Spector says she is looking forward to taking her songs on the road.

“I’ve waited so long for this,” she says. “I love rock ’n’ roll, and I want to get to Cleveland as soon as I can so everyone can see me rock the joint.”

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