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ROLLING STONES TRIVIA: THE RONETTES

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The Ronettes

American female singing trio from Spanish Harlem, New York (Veronica Bennett, her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley) who opened for the Stones on their first headlining British tour in January 1964. Mick and Keith both fancied Ronnie (later Mrs. Phil Spector) Eventually Keith got her, and Mick wound up with sister Estelle.

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From The Pop History Dig:
By December 1963 and early 1964, with their two singles in the U.K. Top 20, the Ronettes had become quite popular in the U.K. and they began a tour there. On the tour, the Ronettes were the top of the bill, with the Rolling Stones providing their opening act. They were among the first girl groups to produce anything close to hysteria in British audiences.

The U.K. press ran headlines like, “Girls Scream at Stones, Boys for Ronettes.” While in the U.K., they also made a much-noticed appearance on the I-TV pop show, Ready, Steady, Go!

On the tour, the Ronettes traveled with Rolling Stones in a van as they went to various performances in the U.K. “I remember times when the fog was so thick, we’d have to pull over,” Ronnie would later report. “Keith [Richards] and I would walk up to some stranger’s house to ask for a cup of tea!” Ronnie, in later interviews, would further elaborate on some of their travels:

“…We were headliners over in London, and … the Rolling Stones, they were our opening act… So that’s how we met them actually. And we all traveled together. They were great guys. And I loved Keith. He loved me. My sister was usually with Mick … and Nedra was with Brian, you know. But we all were together… Like, having dinner together and eating. There was not a lot of sex and all that kind of stuff going on with us. I think that came later on with the [Stones’] groupies and all that. But with us, there was none of that… unfortunately (laughs). My mother toured with us everywhere, so I didn’t get really a chance to do anything, but I didn’t want to then…”

Back in the States, as well, the Ronettes always traveled with at least one family member. According to one report, when they were playing a two-week date in Wildwood, New Jersey, they were asked to stay over an additional week. And when that suggestion became a more forcible proposition, one of the Ronettes’ aunts, along as chaperone, called back home to a contingent of several burly uncles to come to the rescue and get the girls home.

But during their trip to the U.K, the Ronettes were also introduced to the Beatles, and spent personal time with them during the tour. There was at least one night of dancing with John, George and Ringo, as Ronnie later recalled, noting that Paul McCartney was then involved with Jane Asher. Estelle and George Harrison had paired off in the dancing that evening, as Ronnie remembered, while she spent some time with John Lennon.

The Ronettes, in fact, having befriended the Beatles on their first tour of Britain, were on hand February 8, 1964 to welcome the Beatles as they arrived in New York for their first U.S. visit and Ed Sullivan Show appearance. Two years later, in August 1966, the Ronettes (minus Ronnie) would join the Beatles on their 14-city U.S./Canada tour as one of the opening acts. As for the Rolling Stones, on a subsequent visit they made to New York in the 1960s, Ronnie’s mother would end up cooking for them at her home.

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