Inside Ronnie Spector’s dark marriage to murderer Phil Spector

When it comes to red flags, Ronnie Spector’s tumultuous marriage to Phil Spector was the biggest and reddest of all.

Phil was convicted of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 and died in prison last year. But before he was tried for the gruesome crime, the relationship between the producer and his teenage protégé was marred by brutality, unhealthy control, and twisted love. And it eventually ended up becoming a chilling harbinger of the violence to come.

Ronnie, the bad girl vocalist of the 1960s rock group The Ronettes, died Wednesday at age 78 after a brief battle with cancer. But in the years leading up to his death, music spoke openly about his traumatic relationship with Phil, who first signed with his band in 1963.

Phil and Ronnie Spector had a tumultuous marriage that involved death threats. Still, before their violent temper set off sparks, their relationship sparked musical ingenuity.

Phil would help lead Ronnie and the Ronettes to chart success with hits from “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You” (both 1963), to “The Best Part of Breakin ‘Up” and ” Walking in the Rain “. ”(Both from 1964). The couple married in 1968 and the Ronettes broke up shortly after.

Representatives for Ronnie did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.

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Phil and Ronnie Spector in Westwood, California, in 1972.

In Ronnie’s 1990 memoir “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Mini Skirts, and Insanity,” she wrote that while she admired her ex-husband’s musical genius, he was vindictive, controlling, and violent.

In the book, she also mentions that she actually had a gold coffin in the basement and told her that she would kill her if she tried to leave it.

“I can only say that when I left in the early 70s, I knew that if I didn’t leave then, I was going to die there,” he wrote.

The book also details how Phil kept her locked up in his California mansion, where he subjected her to harsh psychological abuse. In 1972, with the help of her mother, she ran barefoot and barely escaped with her life.

Ronnie told People in 2018 about her mother’s help and her ordeal: “She said, ‘I’m your mother and I’m telling you we have to get out of here. Or you, my girl, are you going to go ‘”.

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Ronnie Spector was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Redferns via Getty Images

The “Love On a Rooftop” musician continued: “It was so dark in those days. Now I feel free now to be able to tell other women. Maybe not all women will listen to me, but some will and I [hope] I can get one or two to save her [own] lives or save them from being abused ”.

As a result of their separation in 1974, Phil obtained custody of his three adopted children: Donte Phillip and the twins Louis and Gary. The record producer forced her to sign her life into the divorce settlement and removed her from future record earnings.

At the time, she accused him of pointing a gun at her and reported that he had threatened to hire a hit man to assassinate her.

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Phil Spector brought the Ronettes to fame after signing them in 1963.
Michael Ochs Archives

Decades after their divorce, Phil still felt like he had some kind of control over Ronnie. He ran a campaign in 2007 to prevent her from being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“You’d think he could have focused on his murder trial,” the singer told The Post at the time.

The couple’s three adopted children also reportedly suffered abuse and trauma from the producer behind the Wall of Sound recording technique. Donte Phillip claimed in a 2003 Mail on Sunday interview that Phil abused the trio and described his relationship with him as a “fine line between love and hate.”

He also alleged that Phil trapped him and his brothers in their rooms “with locks on the door.”

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Phil Spector in court during his murder trial in March 2009.
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When Phil finally passed away at the age of 81, Ronnie spoke about his death. “It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me,” he wrote on social media at the time.

“When I was working with Phil Spector, watching him create in the recording studio, I knew he was working with the best. He was in complete control, directing everyone. Much to love about those days, “he continued. “Meeting him and falling in love was like a fairy tale. The magical music that we were able to make together was inspired by our love. I loved him madly and gave him my heart and soul. “

Perhaps in the understatement of the century, Ronnie added that while her ex was “a brilliant producer”, he was “a lousy husband.” He seemed to be at peace with the role he played in her career.

Unfortunately, Phil was unable to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness fell, many lives were damaged. I still smile every time I listen to the music we made together, and I always will. Music will be forever ”.


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