Sexy, fun, and 'a little wild': Ronnie Spector remembered by a fellow '60s icon
La La Brooks, of the Crystals, and Spector, of the Ronettes, were teens when they met
La La Brooks was just 14 years old when she first got to know her friend Ronnie Spector.
The pair were lead singers of two of the biggest girl groups of the 1960s — the Crystals and the Ronettes — and frequently shared the stage.
"Our dressing rooms were always across from each other. I could hear Ronnie getting ready to go on stage, with a little short dress, very sexy, and she'd call 'La La! Come on!'" Brooks told As It Happens host Carol Off.
Spector, who sang hits like Be My Baby and Baby I Love You, and served as an influence to generations of musicians, died on Wednesday at age 78.
Releasing her last album in 2016, Spector delighted in performing, Brooks said.
"I think Ronnie would be 100 years old, still doing 'Be My Baby' on stage if she could," she said.
"That's how much she loved the fans, and that's how much she loved the stage."
Brooks also bore witness to a difficult chapter in Spector's life — her 1968 marriage to music producer Phil Spector, who also produced the Crystals.
In her 1990 autobiography Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness, Spector recounted the abuse she suffered, saying that her then-husband kept her locked in their Beverly Hills mansion.
"[Spector] would tell me some of the things that were sad, but what could you do?" said Brooks of that period.
Brooks also remembers running into Spector's sister and former Ronettes bandmate, Estelle, who would "have a sadness about her" over the group's breakup following Spector's marriage.
In 1974, the pair divorced and "she finally got away," Brooks continued. Phil Spector, who was sent to prison in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, died in 2021.
The two friends then found themselves reunited back on stage again.
"I did a television show with her; I did Lincoln Centre with her. I did so many things with Ronnie after," said Brooks.
Along with her talent, Brooks says she'll remember her friend for her confidence, her style and her energy — which ran "a little wild."
"I'll remember memories of her smile, her little twist on stage, the way she would walk downstairs and didn't care if the guys looked up her skirt, because that was Ronnie," she said with a laugh.
"She was a beautiful person, inside and out."
Written by Kate McGillivray. Story produced by Chris Trowbridge.