As for red flags, Ronnie Spector’s tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector was the biggest and reddest of them all.
Phil was convicted of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 and died in prison last year. But before he was convicted of the heinous crime, the relationship between the producer and his teenage protégé was marked by brutality, ill control and twisted love. And it ended up being a harrowing warning of the coming violence.
Ronnie, the bad-girl vocalist from 60s rock band The Ronettes, died Wednesday at the age of 78 after a brief battle with cancer. But in the years leading up to her death, the musician was open about his traumatic relationship with Phil, who first signed his band in 1963.
Phil would help bring Ronnie and the Ronettes ‘blockbuster hits with “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You” (both 1963) to “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up” and “Walking in the Rain” “( both 1964). The couple tied the knot in 1968, and Ronettes resigned shortly after.
Ronnie’s representatives did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.
In Ronnie’s 1990 memoir “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness,” she wrote that while admiring her ex-husband’s musical genius, he was vengeful, controlling, and violent.
In the book, she also mentions that he actually kept a gold chest in their basement and told her that he would kill her if she tried to leave him.
“I can only say that when I traveled in the early ’70s, I knew that if I did not leave at that time, I would die there,” she wrote.
The book further describes how Phil kept her imprisoned in his California mansion, where he subjected her to severe mental abuse. In 1972, she ran with the help of her mother, barefoot, and escaped with her life.
Ronnie told People in 2018 about her mother’s help and her ordeal: “She said, ‘I am your mother, and I tell you we must get out of here. Or you, my little girl, will be gone.’
The “Love On a Rooftop” musician continued: “It was so dark back then. Now I feel free now to be able to tell it to other women. Maybe not all women will listen to me, but some will and I [hope] I can get one or two to save theirs [own] life or save them from being abused. ”
As a result of their separation in 1974, Phil gained custody of their three adopted children – Donté Phillip and twins Louis and Gary. The record producer forced her to quit her life in the divorce settlement and cut her out of future record earnings.
At the time, she had accused him of pulling a gun on her and reported that he had threatened to hire a hitman to murder her.
Decades after their divorce, Phil still felt as if he had some sort of control over Ronnie. He led a campaign in 2007 to prevent her from being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“One would think he could have focused on his murder case,” the singer told The Post at the time.
The couple’s three adopted children have reportedly also 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, describing their relationship with him as a “thin line between love and hate.”
He also claimed that Phil caught him and his brothers in their bedrooms “with locks on the door.”
When Phil eventually died at the age of 81, Ronnie spoke out about his death. “It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me,” she wrote on social media at the time.
“When I worked with Phil Spector and saw him create in the recording studio, I knew I was working with the very best. He had full control and directed everyone. So much to love about those days, ”she continued. “Meeting him and falling in love was like an adventure. The magic music we were able to make together was inspired by our love. I loved him dearly and gave my heart and my soul to him. “
In perhaps the century’s understatement, Ronnie added that although her ex was “an ingenious producer,” he was “a miserable man.” She seemed at peace with the role he was playing in her career.
“Unfortunately, Phil was not able to live and work outside the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I still smile when I hear the music we made together and I will always do that. The music will last forever. “