Look out, Asbury Park: Ronnie Spector is back.
“Spector, the iconic 1960s hit-maker, has reunited with her longtime group the Ronettes, and they’ll be headlining at Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 26, for Cruisin’ the Circuit.
The concert, Spector’s first performance in the city in 15 years, benefits the homeless animal support organization the Asbury Park Boardwalk Rescue.
Co-sponsored by the Asbury Park Press, Saturday’s event also will feature Shirley Alston Reeves of the Shirelles, The Crystals, the Coasters, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Nicky Addeo and Pat Guadagno’s Big Band, hosted by local radio personality Big Joe Henry.
Fresh off releasing the single “Love Power” earlier this month, Spector recently took some time to chat via email about her connection with Asbury Park, her bond with Bruce Springsteen and the decision to reunite the Ronettes.
Q: Aug. 26 will be your first time in Asbury Park in 15 years. How are you feeling about getting back to the city, and do you have any particularly fond memories of playing the city in the past?
A: Are you kidding me? I can’t wait to get back there! Those were great times for me. You know I came back east in ’74 and really needed to make music. People may not know it, but I never wanted to leave rock ‘n’ roll.
Let me tell you (a) little story of how I got to Asbury Park in the first place. I am walking down the street in New York City, mid-’70s and I hear this voice yell out, “Hey Ronnie, Ronnie Ronette,” so I turn around and it’s John Lennon. I actually met John the first night we landed in the U.K. in January ’64. Anyway, John asked me how am I doing, and I tell him, “Not good, I need to make music.” John said he was busy being a house husband taking care of his son, but introduced me to his engineer, Jimmy Iovine.
That night, Jimmy invited me down to the Record Plant where he was working with a band from Jersey. When I walked into the studio, I met Little Steven (Van Zandt), who was producing Southside Johnny. And (Bruce) Springsteen was there, too, and right on spot Bruce re-wrote a song for me and Johnny to sing as a duet, “You Mean So Much to Me Baby.” They were all excited when I showed up, and more excited when I started to sing. I was surprised they knew me.
After that I started hanging out in Asbury Park with the guys, doing shows at the Stone Pony and all over the place. The second part of my career really started in Asbury Park. Those guys treated me like a sister and really helped me get back to what I loved doing, rock ‘n’ roll. They always looked out for me, and would never let me get into any trouble!
Q: You are once again making music with the Ronettes. How does it feel to have the group back together, and what made now the right time to reunite?
A: I was performing over at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. last year. There’s more than a hundred thousand people at the festival, everyone is there from Adele on down. And we get out on stage and start into “Baby I Love You” and the crowd goes nuts. All these kids are screaming, and I look over to my girls … and they are doing the routines, and right then it was back to the beginning. It hit me, boom! It was just about having FUN!
I have had lots of high points in my career, but those times from ’63 to ’66 remain magical to me. That’s before all the craziness, the ripoffs, the lawsuits. There was an innocence back then that I miss. And that’s why I am back as Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes.
Q: I love your new single, “Love Power.” What was the inspiration behind such an uplifting track?
A: At first I wanted to change the title to “Girl Power,” but Narada Michael Walden, my producer, and I were talking about it, and we both felt the same. Right now we need “Love Power.” I see people marching with Nazi flags carrying torches. What is going on in our country, in our world?
Anyway I had bumped into Narada last December at Carnegie Hall when we were both doing Sting’s “Rainforest Benefit” and we got talking, and the next thing I know I fly out to San Francisco and we recorded it. And I love it, love the sound, love the arrangement, love the production. I told Narada just what I wanted, and he gave it to me. I do believe love power is the greatest power of them all, and like the song says, “Together we can’t fall.”
Q: Is “Love Power” the first glimpse at a new LP from you and the Ronettes?
A: I honestly don’t know. I made my first record in 1961, and the business has changed so much. I have to pinch myself ’cause I can’t believe I am still here doing it. Of course I would love to make a new Ronettes album.
But I am so proud of “Love Power.” We are here to spread love. That’s what the Ronettes always sang about, “Baby I Love You,” “Do I Love You,” “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love,” “Chapel of Love” and of course “Be My Baby” and so on. It was always about love for the Ronettes, and I feel we delivered that message again.
Q: On both the new single and your last album, 2016’s “English Heart,” your voice is in terrific shape. What’s your secret to preserving your instrument after all of these years of singing?
A: I don’t go out much and I don’t talk much either. I stay away from parties, and I try and eat right, lots of pineapple. And very important, lots of sleep. I have been very lucky. It’s probably in my genes. I do drink coffee every morning, and still smoke cigarettes, which I started in my late teens.
Q: Forty years ago, you partnered with the E Street Band for “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.” What are your memories of working with the band on that classic single?
A: I was going back and forth to L.A., so the times in the studio with Bruce and the boys were great. The times in L.A. were very difficult for me. Everyone was working hard to find the right song for us to record. And of course Billy Joel, who wrote “Hollywood,” used to open up for the Ronettes on Long Island in the ’60s when he was in the Hassles.
I also loved the ‘B’ side which Little Steven wrote for me. Those guys were like big brothers to me. It’s the only record outside of their work with Bruce where they are credited as the E Street Band. I look back and really appreciate those days. Not one memory, lots and lots of them, so much fun and a sense of freedom for me which I desperately needed. The guys were great and exactly what I needed at that moment in my life.”
CRUISIN’ THE CIRCUIT
WITH: Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, Shirley Alston Reeves, The Crystals, The Coasters, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Nicky Addeo and Pat Guadagno’s Big Band
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26
WHERE: The Paramount Theatre, 1300 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park
TICKETS: $27 to $77
For more information on Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes please visit her website at: http://www.ronniespector.com/
For more information on Narada Michael Walden please visit: http://www.naradamichaelwalden.com/
For Narada Interview Requests please contact: Michael Jensen & Erin Cook / Jensen Communications MJ@jensencom.com Erin@jensencom.com Phone 626-585-9575
For Ronnie Interview Requests please contact: Seth Cohen at Seth Cohen PR firstname.lastname@example.org 917-969-2019