The Ronettes, from left to right-- Estelle Benntt, Ronnie Spector, and NedraTalley.
Breaking down Phil Spector's revolutionary recording habits can be a maddening act of eternal subdivision, where the components get smaller and more delicate the closer you look.
But in Spector's massive, indelible Wall of Sound, the Ronettes were a keystone act, and Estelle Bennett, who spent her brief musical career crooning harmony in Ronnie Spector's shadow, was a fundamental, overlooked part of the music that changed the face of popular culture forever.
The Ronettes performing "Be My Baby." Estelle is on the left.
One scarcely needs to look any further than the Ronette's monumental "Be My Baby," an oft revisited, never duplicated pop single that directly influenced such musical behemoths as Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney. Wilson, the mad auteur behind the Beach Boys, not only made the claim that he had spent his entire career attempting to live up to that single song, but that for a period during the making of Today!, he listened to nothing but "Be My Baby" on a constant loop for the better part of the year.
Bennett was not long for the music world. When the Ronettes disbanded in 1966, Bennett made a brief, futile attempt at a solo career, she released "The Year 2000/ Naked Boy," a Laurie Records album that made a Houdini-esque vanishing act shortly after its release, taking Bennett with it.
She spent the ensuing decades as far from the lime light as possible, and even refused to perform with the Ronettes at their induction into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 2007. According to Ronnie (her sister), Bennett died on Wednesday afternoon. She was 67.