If I had to pick one story in all the history of music to illustrate everything I love and hate about pop, I would choose the one about Veronica Bennett and her one-time partner, Phil Spector.
Phil Spector and Veronica Bennett
What's great about Bennett and Spector is the music they made together: "Walking in the Rain," "Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love?," "(The Best Part of) Breaking Up" -- essentially, every minute of the Ronettes' discography, after the group left its first label and signed to Spector's Philles Records in 1962.
What's awful about Bennett and Spector is everything else: His possessiveness toward her; his threats of violence; his will to dominate her very identity, to an extent where, soon after the Ronettes jumped labels, Bennett took the name "Ronnie Spector," which she is known as today -- almost 40 years after their divorce, and 50 years after their first record together, "Be My Baby."
But from a music journalist's perspective, the worst thing about the Spectors is how the ex-husband's Pygmalion complex has been rewarded by writers. To this day, their creative partnership is commonly characterized as one of artist and muse. Even though, on a Ronettes record, it's her voice and all the emotional intelligence resounding within it that hits us most squarely.More »