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Be My Baby by The Ronettes

Album: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring VeronicaReleased: 1963Charted:
2
4
  • This was the first Ronettes song produced by Phil Spector and released on his label, Philles Records. It exemplified Spector's "Wall Of Sound" production technique, where he layered lots of instruments and used echo effects.

    Spector had already produced 7 chart hits when he auditioned The Ronettes for his Philles record label. The Ronettes were Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett, her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley. Phil fell in love with Veronica's voice and immediately went about signing the group to Philles. The trio was under contract with Colpix Records who had issued a few singles and a album which did not chart. With the help of Veronica and Estelle's mother, who simply called the company and got Colpix to release the Ronettes from their contract, Phil immediately signed the Ronettes to Philles at the end of March. He had the group record a Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich song called "Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love," but Spector decided not to release it in favor of another Barry-Greenwich composition, "Be My Baby." The single (Philles 116) entered the charts at the end of August and became the biggest hit and only Top 10 for The Ronettes. (Thanks to Kent at the Forgotten Hits newsletter, which you can join at The60sshop@aol.com.)
  • Bennett was the only Ronette to sing on this. Phil Spector rehearsed her for weeks, and had her do 42 takes before he got the sound he wanted. Spector and Bennett got married in 1968, and they divorced in 1974.
  • Phil Spector got a songwriting credit on this along with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Ronnie Spector said she felt the song was inspired by her budding romance with Phil.
  • The Los Angeles area was populated with very talented session musicians in 1963, and Phil Spector called on many of them to play on "Be My Baby." Assembled at Gold Star Studios on July 5, 1963 were Don Randi (piano), Hal Blaine (drums - the opening is one of his signature riffs), Frank Capp (also drums - Spector used two drummers at the session), Al de Lory (keyboards), Bill Pitman (guitar), Ray Pohlman (bass), and Tommy Tedesco (guitar).

    These 4-hours sessions typically yielded 4-6 songs, but many times Phil Spector used all of his time on one song, which was the case here. For the B-side, Spector had Tommy Tedesco and Bill Pitman record a throwaway instrumental that he called "Tedesco And Pitman." Spector made sure the B-sides of his singles were garbage so there was no doubt what song should be played. This also allowed him more studio time to craft the hit.
  • Ronnie Spector (formerly Bennett) titled her 1995 autobiography Be My Baby. In the book, she explained that Phil had her rehearse the song for weeks, then spent about three days working on her vocal in the control room. Ronnie would practice in the ladies' room at the studio, which she said had great acoustics and let her work out the little "whoas" and "oh-oh-ohs."
  • Phil Spector used a full string section on this recording, which Brian Wilson thought was brilliant. Wilson says it is his favorite record, stating in Q Magazine's 1001 Best songs Ever: "This is a special one for me. What a great sound, the Wall of Sound. Boy, first heard this on the car radio and I had to pull off the road, I couldn't believe it. The choruses blew me away; the strings are the melody of love. It has the promise to make the world better."
  • Ronnie Spector sang parts of this on Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight" in 1986. She also appeared in the video. Money's biggest hit, he introduced Bennet's part with the line "Just like Ronnie sang..."
  • A pre-famous Cher sang backup vocals. Sonny Bono worked for Phil Spector as a promotion man; he was dating Cher and introduced her to Phil, who then used her as backup on several recordings including "Da Do Ron Ron" and "Be My Baby."

    Spector invited anyone who could sing to participate in the backup vocal sessions, and for "Be My Baby," Bono, Darlene Love, Bobby Sheen (of Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans), and Nino Tempo were among those showing up. According to Spector's engineer Larry Levine, they had to back up Cher because her voice would cut through so powerfully.
  • A version by Andy Kim hit US #17 in 1970. John Lennon also did a cover.
  • Brian Wilson wrote an answer song to this called "Don't Worry Baby." Ronnie covered it in 1999 on She Talks To Rainbows.
  • This song opens the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, and plays during the opening credits over Martin Scorsese's 1973 movie Mean Streets. After the Dirty Dancing appearance, The Ronettes sued Phil Spector, claiming he wasn't authorized to use their music in movies, advertisements and other venues. In a 1998 trial, Spector was ordered to pay $2.6 million in past royalties to The Ronettes, but the verdict was overturned in 2002, with a judge deciding that if the secondary rights to the music were not spelled out in the contract (which they rarely were in the '60s), the singers did not control those rights.
  • Ronnie Spector was just 15 years old when she recorded this song, and 16 when it hit #1.
  • This was used in TV commercials for erectile dysfunction drug Cialis. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • As part of her divorce settlement with Phil Spector, Ronnie Spector is not allowed to perform this on TV.
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Comments: 36

On September 28th 1963, the Ronettes performed "By My Baby" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
At the time the song was at #3 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart and had been on the chart for five weeks...
{See the next post below}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On August 25th 1963, "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on October 6th, 1963 it peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100 {and for 6 of those 13 weeks it was on the Top 10}...
And also on October 6th, 1963 it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on the Cash Box Magazine chart {the song that replaced it at #1 was "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs}...
The three weeks the song was at #2 on the Top 100; the #1 for all three of those weeks was "Sugar Shack"...
The NYC trio had a total of eight records make the Top 100; their next biggest hit was "Walkin' In The Rain" {my favorite}, it reached #23, but right behind it was "Baby, I Love You", which peaked at #24.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
A real rock & roll masterpiece from The Ronettes & producer Phil Spector. Sure, I know that Billboard has it peaking at #2 in 1963, but back then in my area the rock & roll radio stations had it at #1. Most AM radio stations put out their own song charts back then. The Wall of Sound was amazing back in 1963. Now, I learned that Spector recorded many of his songs in stereo versions too. "Be My Baby" will always evoke good memories for me. Just think of how many other rock icons were influenced by this song by The Ronettes? Incredible!Bubblesk - Memphis, Tn
Check out the totally chilled cover by Ivy....Alon - Forest Hills, Ny
When the song starts out and she sings 'The night we met I knew I needed you so.........' What a beautiful voice!!Bob - Bismarck, Nd
In 1971 Ronnie Spector released a solo record titled "Try Some, Buy Some"; it peaked at #77 and stayed in the Top 100 for four weeks!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
If the Songfact's info above is true, specifically that in Ronnie's divorce settlement from Phil Spector she is precluded from performing "Be My Baby" on TV then I suggest that WE ALL encourage Ronnie to consider that prohibition to be null & void now that Phil Spector is incarcerated in a California prison for felony murder. What's Phil going to do, fight her in court? I don't think so. Further, I would love to see Paul Shaffer produce a musical tribute to Phil Spector (on TV)featuring all the 'real' people who performed the songs Phil Spector produced and have Brian Wilson play the piano on 'BE MY Baby' - Some of the people who were recording artists for Phil have passed away already,encourage Paul to do this without delay before its too late.If you agree then contact Paul, Eddie Money, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Stanley, Patti Smith, Cher,and anyone else who has an interest in supporting Ronnie. God Bless Ellie GreenwichJohn - Eugene, Or
Last night, September 3rd, I attended a fabulous concert by the Patti Smith Band. Her first encore song was Be My Baby which she dedicated to Ellie Greenwich. It was a fantastic version of a great song!Skid - Los Angeles, Ca
As a Phil Spector's fan I'm also a fan of Ellie Greenwich. Ellie died on August 26 at the age of 68. Ellie is gone but her songs will stay 4 ever and ever. R.I.P. Ellie Greenwich, thanks!Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
On Nov. 4th, 1976 at The Palladium in NYC Ronnie Spector joined Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band on stage and sang this song along with 'Baby, I Love You' & 'Walking in the Rain'...Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
If it weren't for this song there would be no Pet Sounds. If it weren't for Pet Sounds there would be no Sgt. Peppers. No Peppers then Roll and Roll would not be what it is today. One of my favorite songs of all time.Charles - San Francisco, Ca
This great Ronnettes Song was Used in the Wonder Years Episode "Ninth Grade Man" Its the Music in our Lives that Make Great memories- GBGrant - Toowoomba,
I had heard it said that Cher DID sing back-up vocals on this song-----if you listen very closely, you can hear her voice. very interesting Songfact.Sam - Hipsville, Ca
Hats off to Hal Blaine and other members of Phils' "Wrecking Crew" for one of the Best ever songs in Rock-n-Roll.Daevid - Glendale, Ca
Deana - I was living in Indianapolis area when "Take Me Home Tonight" came out - it's funny that you left that comment because that song always makes me think of living in Middletown!Linc - Beaumont, Tx
In "The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector", a BBC2 Arena documentary, Phil Spector claims he could have ruined Martin Scorsese's beginning career in 1973 by forbidding the use of Be my Baby in the film Mean Streets.Nico - Amstelveen, --
I read somewhere that when Ronnie was trying to leave the brilliant but crazy Phil Spector her mother gave her this advise..."You can't pull your hand from the lion's mouth. You gotta SLIDE it out." I thought that was just so cool. Oh, and "Be My Baby" is one of my top favorite songs of all time. Oh,Oh,Oh,OhCongo - Woonsocket, Ri
Played during closing scene of movie "Baby Mama" 2008 - Directed by Michael McCullers. With Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Greg KinnearRich - Plainview, Ny
There used to be a live FM radio show in Mexico City in the early 80s, "The Monster Production Show", in which twice or thrice a mexican rock singer, Kenny, made a wonderful cover of this song under an unplugged format...made me shed some tears of joy
Jesús Herrera, Mexico City
Jesus Eduardo - Mexico, Mexico
From the rooftops of an abstract Spanish Harlem, an exquisitely exclusive love affair existing in an ageless timewarp,unfettered by the gritty pressures of the streets below. Age and heartbreak suspended by infinite emotion in a rock and roll symphony of eternal passion.Stephen - Sullivan, Nh
In response to the Andy Kim comment. He did both "Baby I Love You" which hit #9 on US charts in 1969, and "Be My Baby" which peaked at #17 in 1970.Tim - Rialto, Ca
this was also playing in the background when David (addison) and Maddie (hayes) finally got it on in "moonlighting"..gosh, what a great voice she has.Beth - Pittsburgh, Pa
Wasn't Andy Kim's 1970 version "Baby I Love You" not "Be My Baby"?Scott - Phoenix, Az
this might just be the best song ever...Mairi - Cantsay, Canada
The most important drum introduction in the history of rock music played by who else? Hal Blaine.Chris - Morristown, Tn
Ronnie Spector is the bird in the Beatles song "And Your Bird Can Sing". The song is directed to Phil Spector in my opinion.Steve - Fenton, Mo
This song is Brian Wilson's favourite song of all-time.Alan - Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
This is #22 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
Michael Stanley does an awesome job on this song! Jennifer Lee is excellent on this song as well! I just heard this on his new CD "American Road". I've enjoyed listening to Michael Stanley for over 25 years! (Time flies)Dee - Cleveland, Oh
There is a new cover of this song by Michael Stanley on his new CD titled "American Road" available from Line Level Music (www.linelevelmusic.com) release date June 2005. Michael sings the lead with Jennifer Lee doing the backup. It it a keeper and worth checking out.Cms - Cleveland, Oh
i love this song1 and Ronnie's voice is awesome!Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Played over the opening credits of Martin Scorsese's break-through "Mean Streets." One of the first films to construct a soundtrack out of pop songs. MS uses Be My Baby not just to instill nostalgia in the audience (as "Dirty Dancing" does), but to illustrate the hero's own nostalgia for his youth.Craig - Madison, Wi
Perfection. People who dislike this song are not to be trusted. Avoid them at all costs.Craig - Madison, Wi
A very nice song of Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. Good performance of Ronnie and a superb "Wall of Sound" of Phil Spector. I love it!Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
Eddie Money's song "Take Me Home Tonight" featured Ronnie Spector singing back to him the chorus from this songDeana - Indianapolis, In
My favourite version of this track was the one that Brian Wilson did in his Roxy theatre tour in 2000 or so.Matthew - Shrewsbury, England