Member of the Ronettes
Estelle Bennett of the Ronettes died at her home in Englewood, N.J. on Wednesday, February 11, 2009. She was found in her apartment by a friend, after family members had been unable to reach her for several days. The cause was of death was ruled colon cancer. She was 67. The Ronettes got their start in New York in 1959 as the “Darling Sisters” when sisters Estelle and Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett teamed up with their cousin Nedra Talley. According to legend, in 1961 they were waiting in line at the Peppermint Lounge when a manager mistook them for a group he had booked for the evening. They took the stage and brought down the house with their short skirts, heavy makeup and beehive hair dos. During their gigs at the Peppermint Lounge they backed “Joey Dee and the Starliters” and Bobby Rydell to name a few. The group cut a few singles under the name “Ronnie and the Relatives”, but didn’t really find their sound until they were signed by producer Phil Spector. Under Spector’s watchful eye, the Ronettes cranked out some of the most recognized “wall of sound” hits of the 1960s with songs like “Be My Baby”, “Baby, I Love You”, “Do I Love You” and “Walking In The Rain”. (The latter would earn Spector’s only Grammy, for “Best Sound Effects”.) Sadly only “Be My Baby” would make the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, hitting as high as #2 in 1963. But Spector soon lost interest in the Ronettes, though not in Ronnie, whom he would marry and later divorce. Estelle would record one single in later years (“The Year 2000/Naked Boy”) but would eventually pull away from the music business all together. The Ronettes were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.