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Ronnie Spector, Beloved Ronettes Singer, Dead at 78

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Ronnie Spector, the leader of the girl group the Ronettes and the voice behind immortal classics like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer. She was 78.

“Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face,” her family said in a statement. “She was filled with love and gratitude. Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her.”

The Ronettes were the quintessential act of the early Sixties girl group era, and Spector’s silk meets sandpaper voice powered all of their songs. And while “Be My Baby” became the defining song of the entire time period, they also charted with “Baby, I Love You,” “Walking In The Rain,” “(The Best Part of Breaking’ Up),” and “Do I Love You.”

“I just heard the news about Ronnie Spector and I don’t know what to say,” Brian Wilson said in a statement shortly after the news of her death broke. “I loved her voice so much and she was a very special person and a dear friend. This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever.”

The group’s hits were all produced by Phil Spector, and he began an affair with Ronnie shortly after he signed them in 1963. They married in 1968 and split in 1972. In her 1990 memoir Be My Baby, she wrote that her relationship with Spector was marked by years of horrible violence and abuse. 

“As I said many times while he was alive, he was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband,” she said shortly after he died in 2021. “Unfortunately Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.”

Veronica Yvette Bennett grew up in New York City and started singing with her sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley at a young age. Calling themselves the Darling Sisters, they performed around the city while still attending George Washington High School. After a few unsuccessful singles, they were signed by Spector. He immediately began writing songs specifically for her voice. “Watching him create in the recording studio, I knew I was working with the very best,” she said. “He was in complete control, directing everyone. So much to love about those days.”

The huge success of “Be My Baby” in the summer of 1963 turned the Ronettes into stars, and early the following year they traveled to England where they played a series of shows with the Rolling Stones. “They were a bunch of scraggly looking guys,” she told Rolling Stone in 2016. “But I loved them and I especially loved Keith, because I love that rugged look he had. Mick was, like, a pretty boy maybe. Keith used to say, ‘Oh, we would have great babies because you have that black, thick hair and I have black, thick hair.’”

The success of British Invasion bands like the Stones and the Beatles caused groups like the Ronettes to lose fans in drove. And when the Ronettes were hired to open for the Beatles on their 1966 American tour, a jealous Phil Spector didn’t let Ronnie go. They were forced to play the shows without her. It was the start of a very dark period of her life where Spector tried to exert as much control of her life as possible.

She finally broke free from him in 1972 and slowly started to reassemble the broken pieces of her life and career. “My ex took singing away from me and it was devastating because I had no idea that I would never record,” she told Rolling Stone. “I had no idea I would never perform again, which was my life. I was in shock with that because here’s a person who wrote your records and produced them… And then, you’re never gonna sing again.”

Her comeback started in 1976 when she recorded a cover of Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye To Hollywood” with the E Street Band. But she didn’t return to the spotlight in a big way until 1986 when Eddie Money had her record a live sample of “Be My Baby” for his hit “Take Me Home Tonight.” The song was a huge hit and it introduced her music to an entirely new generation.

Over the past few decades, Spector toured heavily and released the occasional new record. In 2016, she released the British Invasion covers record English Heart. “If someone had told me in the Sixties that I would be around 50 years later, still singing those songs,” she told Rolling Stone in 2016, “I would have said, “You’re outta your mind.”

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Let the Green M&M Be Daddy’s Nasty Little Slut

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The recent push to rebrand corporate logos to be more inclusive has, for the most part, been a good thing. Making Barbie more body-positive? Great. Renaming Aunt Jemima syrup? About damn time. Yet in brands’ fervent quest to capture youth audiences and capture the woke zeitgeist, they may be going just a little bit too far. Case in point: the slut-shaming of the green M&M.

Essentially, this is what happened: the CEO of Mars Wrigley, the company that makes M&Ms, announced today that it would be revamping the characters to make them more “current” and “representative of our consumer” (presumably, people united by their willingness to ignore the fact that they’re eating shittier Reese’s Pieces). How do they plan on doing this, you ask? By replacing the characters’ footwear.

This distinction is pretty negligible for the male characters (CNN goes into detail about the changes, but frankly they are men, and thus I don’t really care). For the female characters, however, the changes are apparent and formidable. The brown M&M’s heels have been lowered to a more sensible Alexis Neiers-esque kitten heel, while the green M&M’s signature go-go boots have been swapped out for non-descript white sneakers, the kind that Melanie Griffith’s character in Working Girl changes into on the subway to signal she’s a Girlboss with a head for business and a bod for sin. Let the river run, ladies! (Mars Wrigley did not immediately return a request for comment.)

For those familiar with the iconography of the green M&M, this change is nothing more than tectonic. I imagine it is similar to how the people of Wittenberg must have felt watching Martin Luther nail his 95 Theses of the Protestant Reformation to the church door. But it is also a major error on Mars Wrigley’s part, because the green M&M being a dirty slut, as signified by her iconic white go-go boots, is precisely what has engendered her a devoted fan base, particularly among similarly libidinous women and gay men who have embraced the character. Consider, for instance, this ad where she does erotic ASMR for no reason other than to give the male M&Ms a massive boner, then feigns ignorance at the impact her performance has. Can we, or should we, attempt to put a cap on such virulent, untrammeled female sexuality? Can you stop the wind from blowing? Can you prevent a dog from vomiting after eating too much cheese? Can you keep Twitter libs from being self-righteous about adhering to COVID protocols? No, you cannot.

The green M&M has spent decades building her brand as a horny, sexy bitch, and for what? For her creators to give her Larry David footwear in the name of feminism? For Mars Wrigley to give themselves pats on the back and big fat fucking raises at the next corporate retreat in Palo Alto? Guess what: the green M&M is a feminist, and she’s a dirty slut. We are real, and we exist, and we refuse to tolerate this disgusting attempt at erasure. We are given so little, and we have tolerated so much. Let the green M&M keep her go-go boots. Let her get blackout and suck dick in the bathroom at Acme on a Wednesday. This is what we want. This is what we deserve. This is what she deserves

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Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, the Who Lead 2022 New Orleans Jazz Fest

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Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, the Who, and Willie Nelson are among the headliners who will perform at this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, which — after two years of Covid-canceled festivals — returns to the Big Easy from April 29 to May 8.

The Black Crowes, Luke Combs, Jimmy Buffett, Lionel Richie, and Erykah Badu are also among the top-billed talent, with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Death Cab for Cutie, Norah Jones, Randy Newman, the Avett Brothers, Dawn Richard, Kool & the Gang, and dozens of New Orleans legends — from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to Big Freedia and Dumpstaphunk — on the deep lineup.

Jazz Fest 2022 Music Lineup Announced!⁰⁰GA Weekend Passes and VIP Packages on sale now!⁰View the lineup and purchase tickets at https://t.co/dApNCrvPYZ#jazzfest pic.twitter.com/swdSpBiouI

— New Orleans JazzFest (@jazzfest) January 20, 2022

This year’s lineup also includes Ziggy Marley performing the music of his father Bob Marley, a “Newport All-Stars” tribute to that fest’s late founder George Wein, Cee Lo Green leading a James Brown tribute, plus sets from Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Asleep at the Wheel, Melissa Etheridge, Buddy Guy, Billy Strings, Ludacris, and more.

Nicks, Foo Fighters, and the Who were all among the headliners for the 2020 Jazz Fest that was canceled by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic; the 2021 Jazz Fest — which featured Foo Fighters alongside the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and Dead & Company — was scheduled for the next spring, but that too was postponed to the fall and ultimately canceled due to the Delta variant.

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How John Mayer Helped Return Bob Saget’s Body to California After His Death

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In addition to retrieving Saget’s car from LAX, John Mayer also helped the Full House star return home to California in a very heartwarming way. Find out more below.

Celebrities React to Bob Saget’s Death

John Mayer paid for a private plane to transport Bob Saget‘s body back to California after his death, E! News has learned.  

On Jan. 9, the Full House star died in his hotel room in Orlando, Fla., while on his stand-up comedy tour. Saget’s funeral was held five days later in Los Angeles with many of his famous friends in attendance. He was 65.  

But Mayer didn’t just fund the flight. Joined by comedian Jeff Ross, the singer also retrieved Saget’s car, which was parked at Los Angeles International Airport. While on their drive home, the pair remembered their “rock star” friend in a poignant Instagram Live.  

While speaking about Saget and the personal impact he had on Mayer’s life, the singer quickly became emotional. 

“I really loved the guy,” he said. “He was a comic before he was anything else. You know, I’ve heard from a thousand comics in the last couple days and he loved making people happy. It didn’t matter who you were. It didn’t matter your stature, your status. Bob was a rock star without an assistant. Bob was a single dad for a long time. He raised three amazing, amazing people and he somehow took his TV family and also made them his real family, which is unheard of.” 

He added, “I’ve just never known a human being on this earth who could give that much love individually and completely to that many people in a way that made each person feel like he was a main character in their life and they were a main character in his life.” 

Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Shortly after Saget’s death, Mayer shared a collection of photos of the pair together and penned a moving tribute to him on Instagram.  

“I’ve met many people in my life, but when Bob crossed my path, I just held onto him, and I wasn’t letting go. I just knew he was the realest thing,” he wrote in part. “I would like you to know that the man you hope was as lovely as you think was way beyond what you can ever imagine. He was impossibly kind. And generous. And loving. And I have more to say so please let me do like one more of these, okay? It’s just the way it’s gonna be.” 

He concluded the post by writing, “I love you, Bob. I will never forget you. I will visit you often in my memories, and I hope I get to see you in my dreams. I will tell my kids about you. I’m taking you with me forever.” 

Watch Daily Pop weekdays at 11 a.m., only on E!.

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