Jersey rockers pay tribute to the late Ronnie Spector, remember her Asbury Park resurgence

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The world is saying goodbye to the great Ronnie Spector, and that includes the New Jersey rockers she collaborated with over the years.

Spector, formerly of the Ronettes, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 12, after a brief battle with cancer, her rep said. She was 78.

“She was definitely one of the high points of my teenage years, one of the high points of my touring life,” tweeted Southside Johnny Lyon on Wednesday. “When she came on stage with the Jukes the crowd went crazy. And, I got to play castanets! Who could ask for more. Rest in a groove, Ronnie.”

Lyon's tweet included a sparkling live version of Spector and the Jukes singing “You Mean So Much to Me.”

“RIP Ronnie ... she put on a helluva show!” said Lee Mrowicki, the long-time deejay at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, a frequent stop for Spector in the '70s and '80s.

“RIP Ronnie Spector. It was an honor to produce her and encourage her to get back on stage where she remained for the next 45 years,” said Steven Van Zandt Wednesday on social media. “Her record with the E Street Band helped sustain us at a very precarious time (thanks to Steve Popovich). Condolences to her husband and family.”

Calvin Simon: Calvin Simon, original P-Funk and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, has died

Van Zandt refers to “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” and “Baby Please Don't Go,” released in 1977 as Ronnie Spector and the E Street Band. Bruce Springsteen was barred from releasing music at this time due to legal wranglings with his former manager.

Spector credited John Lennon with pointing her in the direction of Asbury Park.

“Let me tell you (a) little story of how I got to Asbury Park in the first place,” said Spector to the USA Today Network New Jersey in 2017. “I am walking down the street in New York City, mid-'70s and I hear this voice yell out, 'Hey Ronnie, Ronnie Ronette,' so I turn around and it’s John Lennon. I actually met John the first night we landed in the U.K. in January '64. Anyway, John asked me how am I doing, and I tell him, 'Not good, I need to make music.' John said he was busy being a house husband taking care of his son, but introduced me to his engineer, Jimmy Iovine.”

Music news: Light of Day 2022 rescheduled WinterFest taking shape, see the schedule so far

Singer Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the musical group The Ronettes, has died at 78 after a battle with cancer. American pop trio The Ronettes, comprising Veronica Bennett (later Ronnie Spector), Nedra Talley and Estelle Bennett, UK, 21st October 1964.
Singer Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the musical group The Ronettes, has died at 78 after a battle with cancer. American pop trio The Ronettes, comprising Veronica Bennett (later Ronnie Spector), Nedra Talley and Estelle Bennett, UK, 21st October 1964.

Iovine was the engineer for “Born to Run.”

“That night, Jimmy invited me down to the Record Plant where he was working with a band from Jersey,” Spector said. “When I walked into the studio, I met Little Steven (Van Zandt), who was producing Southside Johnny, and Springsteen was there, too, and right on spot Bruce re-wrote a song for me and Johnny to sing as a duet, “You Mean So Much to Me Baby.” They were all excited when I showed up, and more excited when I started to sing. I was surprised they knew me.

“After that I started hanging out in Asbury Park with the guys, doing shows at the Stone Pony and all over the place. The second part of my career really started in Asbury Park. Those guys treated me like a sister and really helped me get back to what I loved doing, rock 'n' roll. They always looked out for me, and would never let me get into any trouble!”

Springsteen's Sony deal: Is Bruce Springsteen's $500 million Sony deal personal or strictly business?

The Ronettes hits included “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain,” produced in the famous Wall of Sound style by Spector's late husband, Phil Spector.

The Jersey connection continued for Spector until the end. Carteret native Dennis Diken, drummer for the Smithereens, kept the beat for Spector's live shows in recent years.

“Ronnie was a true original. And she was one of a kind,” said Diken to the USA Today Network New Jersey via email. “I think that’s the highest compliment that can be bestowed on an artist. Playing drums with her was a dream come true. I learned so much from listening to The Ronettes records when I was growing up, so when it came time to play the intro to ‘Be My Baby’ I was like a racehorse waiting at the starting gate. I’ll always treasure the time I spent with Ronnie.”

Subscribe to app.com for the latest on the New Jersey music scene.

Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; cjordan@app.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: NJ rockers pay tribute to the late Ronnie Spector

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting