My Beauty Icon: Ronnie Spector

Ronnie Spector

For superfan and devoted beehive-wearer Terri White, the Ronettes’ lead singer was, and always will be, the ultimate beauty.

When Amy Winehouse died, her image was blow-torched into our brains – becoming visual shorthand for her talent, her addictions, her heartbreak and ultimately, her demise. Our minds a rolodex of 4am pap pics in which the skew-whiff-ness of her black beehive and cocked-up smear of her cat-eye seemed to indicate just how bad things really were.

The look though, was not all Amy. She’d drawn wholesale inspiration from the “original bad girl of rock and roll”, Ronnie Spector – a woman who too had spent much of her twenties battling to put the bottle down.

I remember the first time I clapped eyes on Ronnie, aka Veronica Bennett. The flawless face that revealed her rich heritage (Irish, African-American and Chinese), the architectural wonder (and ode to hairspray) that was her thick black bouffant, the heavy winged-eye, the false eyelashes, the curves poured into a dress cut that little bit tighter than those of other 1960s girl groups.

Photos barely do her justice, though. You need to see Ronnie on stage to really <see> her. The voice belting out <Be My Baby> is all at once sweet, soulful, provocative and demanding of attention. The perfect accompaniment to her look – resulting in a intoxicating mix of innocence and sexuality, of fragility and strength, of fuck me and love me, but don’t ever leave me.

It’s this that makes her remarkable and makes her one of us. She is WOMAN. She’s the moment when your heart gets drop-kicked and you stop your hands shaking long enough to re-draw a longer, sharper line; to tease your hair an inch higher. To rebuild yourself from the outside in with Extra Strength Elnett and Maybelline’s Blackest Black.

The strength that saw Ronnie flee her psychotic/genius husband of eight years Phil Spector barefoot and with only the clothes on her back, is right there. In the pride in the jut of her jaw, the fire that flashes in the stare between her lashes and the aggressively erect and rigid hive. This woman may go down, but by god she’ll drag her arse up again. And when she does, everything will be just so. On the outside, at least. And, that’s enough for starters.

Ronnie once expressed concern with how tellingly tilted Amy Winehouse’s beehive often was. “You want to be a Ronette?” she said. “You’ve got to straighten that beehive, honey.” If only she’d listened.

 

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