As far as red flags go, Ronnie Spector’s tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector was the biggest and reddest of them all.
Phil was convicted in 2003 of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. He was sentenced to death in prison last year. But before he was tried for the grisly crime, the relationship between the producer and his teenage protégé was marred by brutality, sick control and twisted love. It was a chilling sign of the violence that was to come.
Ronnie, the bad-girl vocalist of ’60s rock group the Ronettes, died Wednesday at 78 following a brief battle with cancer. In the years that followed her death, Ronnie was open about her difficult relationship with Phil, who signed her band for the first time in 1963.
Ronnie Spector and Phil Spector had a turbulent marriage, which included death threats. Their relationship was fraught with danger, but it was still a love that ignited musical genius.
Phil would be a great help to Ronnie and The Ronettes achieve chart-topping success with hit songs from “Be My Baby”And “Baby, I Love You”(both 1963), “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up”And “Walking in the Rain” (both 1964). The Ronettes ended their relationship in 1968 when they tied the knot.
Ronnie’s reps didn’t respond to The Post’s request for comment.
In Westwood (California), 1972.
In Ronnie’s 1990 memoir “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness,” she wrote that, while she admired her ex-husband’s musical genius, he was vindictive, controlling and violent.
She also mentions in the book that he kept a gold coffin in his basement and threatened to kill her if she left him.
“I can only say that when I left in the early ’70s, I knew that if I didn’t leave at that time, I was going to die there,”She wrote.
The book details how Phil kept her in California where she was subject to severe psychological abuse. With the help of her mother in 1972, she made a daring escape, barefoot.
Ronnie told People in 2018 about her mom’s aid and her ordeal: “She said, ‘I’m your mother and I’m telling you, we gotta get out of here. Or you, my little girl, are going to be gone.’”
Ronnie Spector was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.Redferns
The “Love On a Rooftop” musician continued, “It was so dark back in those days. Now I feel free now to be able to tell other women. Maybe not every woman will listen to me, but some will and I [hope] I can get one or two to save their [own] lives or save them from getting abused.”
As a result of their 1974 separation, Phil got custody of their three adopted kids — Donté Phillip and twins Louis and Gary. The record producer made her sign away her life in the divorce settlement, and she was cut out of future record earnings.
She had already accused him of pulling out a gun on herself and reported that he threatened to hire a hitman to murder her.
Phil Spector was the star of the Ronettes, having signed them in 1963. Michael Ochs Archives
Even though Phil and Ronnie divorced, he still felt that he had some control over Ronnie. He led a campaign in 2007 to bar her from being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“You’d think he might have focused on his murder trial,”The singer shared his thoughts with The Post at that time.
The couple’s three adopted children also reportedly suffered abuse and trauma from the producer behind the Wall of Sound recording technique. Donté Phillip claimed in a 2003 Mail on Sunday interview that the trio was abused by Phil and described their relationship with him as a “thin line between love and hate.”
He also claimed Phil had trapped him, his brothers, and them in their bedrooms. “with locks on the door.”
Ronnie opened up about Phil’s passing at the age 81. “It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me,”She wrote at the time on social media.
“When I was working with Phil Spector, watching him create in the recording studio, I knew I was working with the very best. He was in complete control, directing everyone. So much to love about those days,”She continued. “Meeting him and falling in love was like a fairytale. The magical music we were able to make together, was inspired by our love. I loved him madly, and gave my heart and soul to him.”
Ronnie said that her ex was not a man she loved, which is perhaps the most understatement of the century. “a brilliant producer,”He was “a lousy husband.”She seemed at ease with her career role.
“Unfortunately Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.”