The Brown Woman Who Inspired Amy Winehouse’s Hair: Ronnie Spector

There are very few women in entertainment who can achieve the combination of having raw talent and natural beauty while maintaining a successful 50-year career, but Ronnie Spector did. As the former lead singer for the 60’s girl group, The Ronettes (comprised of Ronnie, her cousin, and her sister), this Native American, Irish, and Black star has managed to hold her own against the fickleness of the music industry. After a tumultuous marriage and a highly publicized divorce from her allegedly controlling husband/producer Phil Spector, the songstress did what any strong woman of color would: she emerged from the ashes victorious, empowered, and better than ever. The Ronettes’ legacy continues to inspire millennials like the late Amy Winehouse, who famously adapted Spector’s signature beehive hair and winged eyeliner. Ronnie Spector’s style is something that she has remained true to over the years, which I believe enforces her staying power as well as her iconic status in the history of rock and roll.

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Even as musical novices, the Ronettes set themselves apart from the girl groups of the day. When acts like The Supremes were playing it safe with Diana Ross’ mainstream pop vocals, Ronnie Spector was doing the total opposite. Her sassy, loud, brash voice gave The Ronettes an edgier appeal. Likewise, their style was bolder. Instead of donning the innocent youthful shift dresses du jour, they decided to play up their forms with tight-fitting ensembles. Tall towering hair and dramatic eyes added an even more glamorous excitement to the musical act. Maybe this was why every musician was chasing Ronnie Spector at the time, from the Beatles’ John Lennon to The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.

At the very peak of her career, Spector’s marriage became more abusive and controlled. She was forced into an early retirement where she was strictly confined to her Beverly Hills mansion. After her heroic escape, she divorced Phil Spector in 1974 and proceeded to pick up where she left off. Since then, she has managed to successfully release critically acclaimed albums, write an inspiring autobiography, and get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Like her unstoppable personality, her fearless sense of fashion has continued to flourish. Ronnie Spector’s hair is iconic, as she continues to proudly wear it as big, beautiful, and tussled as ever. Decades later her makeup is still vibrant. Her ensembles are more conservative, but still carry the same edgy daring sex appeal that they did in her 60’s. Spector’s singing voice never faltered and neither did her determination to have a zest for life.