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 redder of them all.

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

Ronnie, the bad girl singer of the ’60s rock group the Ronettes, died Wednesday at the age of 78 following a brief battle with cancer. But in the years leading up to her death, the musician was open to her traumatic relationship with Phil, who first signed to her band in 1963.

Phil and Ronnie Spector had a tumultuous marriage that involved death threats. Yet before his violent temper sent sparks off, it was a relationship that sparked musical ingenuity.

Phil would help bring the success of Ronnie and the Ronettes 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 in 1964) The couple married in 1968, and the Ronettes decided to quit soon after.

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

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Phil and Ronnie Spector in Westwood, Calif., In 1972.

In Ronnie’s 1990 memoir, “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness,” 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 he actually kept a gold casket in their basement and told her that he would kill her if she tried to leave him.

“I can only say that when I left in the early 1970s I knew if I didn’t leave then I was going to die there,” she wrote.

The book further details how Phil kept her locked up in his California mansion, where he subjected her to severe psychological abuse. In 1972, with the help of her mother, she ran away, barefoot, and barely made it.

Ronnie spoke to 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 little girl, you will 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 back then. Now I feel free now to be able to tell other women that. Maybe not all women will listen to me. , but some will and me [hope] I can get one or two to save them [own] lives or save them from being abused.

Following their separation in 1974, Phil was granted custody of their three adopted children – Donté Phillip and twins Louis and Gary. The record producer forced her to give up her life as part of the divorce settlement and cut her from future record earnings.

At this point, she accused him of pointing a gun at her and said he threatened to hire a hitman to assassinate her.

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Phil Spector made the Ronettes famous after signing them in 1963.
Michael Ochs Archives

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

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

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

He also alleged that Phil had tricked him and his brothers into their rooms “with locks on the door”.

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Phil Spector in court during his murder trial in March 2009.
Getty Images

When Phil finally passed away at the age of 81, Ronnie opened up about his death. “It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me,” she wrote on social media at the time.

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

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

“Unfortunately, Phil couldn’t live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I always smile whenever I hear the music we have. composed together, and I always will. Music will be forever.

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