Estelle Bennett

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Estelle Bennett
The Ronettes.JPG
Bennett (right) with The Ronettes, 1966.
Background information
Born(1941-07-22)July 22, 1941
East Harlem, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 11, 2009(2009-02-11) (aged 67)
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres R&B, Pop, Rock
Years active1959–68
LabelsLaurie Records
Associated acts The Ronettes, Ronnie Spector

Estelle Bennett (July 22, 1941 February 11, 2009) [1] was an American singer. Bennett was a member of the girl group The Ronettes, along with her sister Ronnie and cousin Nedra Talley.

Americans Citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

A girl group is a music act featuring several female singers who generally harmonize together. The term "girl group" is also used in a narrower sense in the United States to denote the wave of American female pop music singing groups, many of whom were influenced by doo-wop and which flourished in the late 1950s and early 1960s between the decline of early rock and roll and start of the British Invasion. All-female bands, in which members also play instruments, are usually considered a separate phenomenon. These groups are sometimes called "girl bands" to differentiate, although this terminology is not universally followed.

The Ronettes American singing group

The Ronettes were an American girl group from New York City. One of the most popular groups from the 1960s, they placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. The trio from Spanish Harlem, New York, consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett, her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley. Among the Ronettes' most famous songs are "Be My Baby", "Baby, I Love You", "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up", and "Walking in the Rain", all of which charted on the Billboard Hot 100. "Walking in the Rain" won a Grammy Award in 1965, and "Be My Baby" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.


Early life

Bennett and her sister, Veronica (later known as Ronnie Bennett), grew up in New York City. They were children of an Irish-American father and African-American/Cherokee mother; they said they were bullied at school [2] because of being light-skinned African Americans. Bennett attended George Washington High School in Manhattan where she was valedictorian. Studious and interested in fashion, she studied at Manhattan's Fashion Institute of Technology. [3]

The Cherokee are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in what is now southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, and the tips of western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia.

George Washington Educational Campus educational institution in New York City

The George Washington Educational Campus is a facility of the New York City Department of Education located at 549 Audubon Avenue at West 193rd Street in the Fort George neighborhood of Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City, United States. Within the building are located four schools:

Fashion Institute of Technology Design/Textile Museum in New York, NY

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is a public college in Manhattan, New York. It is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) and focuses on art, business, design, mass communication, and technology connected to the fashion industry. It was founded in 1944.


When Bennett was 14, she and her sister Ronnie, and their cousin Nedra Talley started singing together. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, the trio reinvented themselves as the Ronettes. Signed up by 23-year-old Phil Spector, Ronnie was made lead, with Estelle and Nedra as backing.

Phil Spector American record producer, songwriter and convicted murderer

Phillip Harvey Spector is an American record producer, musician, and songwriter who developed the Wall of Sound, a music production formula he described as a Wagnerian approach to rock and roll. Spector was dubbed the "First Tycoon of Teen" by writer Tom Wolfe and is acknowledged as one of the most influential figures in pop music history. After the 1970s, Spector mostly retired from public life. In 2009, he was convicted of second-degree murder and has remained incarcerated since.

The Ronettes broke up in 1966. Bennett recorded a single for Laurie Records, "The Year 2000/The Naked Boy".

She quit the music business and was rarely seen afterwards. In 2007, when the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it was decided that she was too fragile to perform with them. She spoke two brief sentences during her acceptance speech, "I would just like to say, thank you very much for giving us this award. I'm Estelle of the Ronettes, thank you." She did, however, come back out on stage for a final bow with the rest of the Ronettes after the performance of "Be My Baby". [1] [4]

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hall of fame located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, recognizes and archives the history of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have had some major influence on the development of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was established on April 20, 1983, by Ahmet Ertegun, founder and chairman of Atlantic Records. In 1986, Cleveland was chosen as the Hall of Fame's permanent home.

Personal life and death

Bennett dated musicians Mick Jagger and George Harrison. She married the group's road manager, Joe Dong, and they had a daughter, Toyin. [5] Her mental health deteriorated in the following years. It was reported that, during a visit to fellow former Ronette, Nedra Talley, she slept through her own baby daughter's crying. [6] She was reported to have had periods of homelessness, during which she would approach strangers in the streets of New York, telling people that she would be singing with the Ronettes in a jazz club. [7]

Mick Jagger Australian ice hockey player, singer of The Rolling Tongues

Sir Michael Philip Jagger is an English singer, songwriter, actor, and film producer who gained worldwide fame as the lead singer and one of the founder members of the Rolling Stones. Jagger's career has spanned over five decades, and he has been described as "one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll". His distinctive voice and energetic live performances, along with Keith Richards' guitar style have been the trademark of the Rolling Stones throughout the band's career. Jagger gained press notoriety for his admitted drug use and romantic involvements, and was often portrayed as a countercultural figure.

George Harrison British musician and lead guitarist of the Beatles

George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles' work. Although the majority of the band's songs were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions. His songs for the group included "Taxman", "Within You Without You", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something".

Bennett died of colon cancer, aged 67, in Englewood, New Jersey. Her body was discovered on February 11, 2009. [1] A week after her death, it was revealed that she had suffered from anorexia nervosa and schizophrenia in the years after the Ronettes break up and that later on, she had been homeless in New York. [1] [4]

Englewood, New Jersey City in Bergen County, New Jersey, U.S.

Englewood is a city located in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 27,147, reflecting an increase of 944 (+3.6%) from the 26,203 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,353 (+5.4%) from the 24,850 counted in the 1990 Census.

Anorexia nervosa eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, and an obsessive fear of gaining weight due to a distorted self image.

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder, characterized by low weight, food restriction, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are, in fact, underweight. They often deny that they have a problem with low weight. They weigh themselves frequently, eat small amounts, and only eat certain foods. Some will exercise excessively, force themselves to vomit, or use laxatives to produce weight loss. Complications may include osteoporosis, infertility, and heart damage—among others. Women will often stop having menstrual periods.

Schizophrenia Mental disorder characterized by abnormal behavior and misinterpretation of reality

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal behavior, strange speech, and a decreased ability to understand reality. Other symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices that do not exist, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and lack of motivation. People with schizophrenia often have additional mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or substance-use disorders. Symptoms typically come on gradually, begin in young adulthood, and, in many cases, never resolve.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Sisario, Ben (February 13, 2009). "Estelle Bennett, a singer for the Ronettes, is dead at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  2. "Estelle Bennett: Singer with the Ronettes". The Independent.
  3. "Estelle Bennett". The Guardian.
  4. 1 2 Sisario, Ben (17 February 2009). "A Life of Troubles Followed a Singer's Burst of Fame". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  5. "". Archived from the original on March 4, 2009.
  6. "Singer's life unraveled after Ronettes". The Columbus Dispatch.
  7. "Dying In Obscurity's Not Just Tragic When You're Famous". JEZEBEL.