Ronnie Spector on Keith Richards, David Bowie and Life After Phil
You did your tour with the Stones in January 1964. What was that like?
We were in a car, and they were in a bus following our car. They were a bunch of scraggly looking guys. 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.” Now his is not so black. But they were my opening act. I remember Keith and Mick asking me about James Brown and I said, “I don’t even know the guy.”
Was it easy traveling then?
One time, we had to stop driving because of the fog. So Keith and I got off the bus, looking for a light, for a house. I said, “Keith, you stand at the back of me,” because he has always had that rugged look, and I look sort of neat, you know? So I said, “Let me knock. I’m a girl.” And I’ll never forget, when we found one, this little lady – she was like round and short – she came to the door and I said, “Hi, I’m Ronnie of the Ronettes and our bus is stuck.” And Keith would say, “I’m Keith from the Rolling Stones.” And she said, “Come on in, guys,” and she gave us scones and tea, which we took back to the bus. You couldn’t do that today. People don’t even open the door today.
Did she know your music?
I don’t know [laughs]. I only thought about that years later [laughs]. We never went back to her because we could never could find her. But I remember Keith and I were both laughing, very energetic. He’s still like that today. Even though he’s older and I’m older, we still have that same attitude.
You recorded with Keith Richards in 2006 on your The Last of the Rock Stars album. You’ve kept the friendship alive.
Keith Richards was there before I even got there. He’s known to be late. I got to the studio, and then Joey Ramone came in. It’s kind of dim in the studio and Keith is on one mic and I’m on another. And you can see Joey sitting in the control room, just staring. He looked at Keith; he looked at me. And that was like his dream. To see Ronnie Spector and Keith Richards in one room. He didn’t move when we were in the recording studio. He died shortly after that. That was the last time I saw Joey.
On English Heart, you cover the Stones’ “I’d Much Rather Be With the Boys” as “I’d Much Rather Be With the Girls.” Why did you flip it?
When Keith wrote that, it was when all the girl groups were in, so they were saying, “I’d much rather be with the boys.” So I just waited 50 years. Yeah, I’d much rather be with the girls.