Estelle Bennett

Estelle Bennett
Bennett in 1966
Bennett in 1966
Background information
Born (1941-07-22)July 22, 1941
New York City, U.S.
Died February 11, 2009(2009-02-11) (aged 67)
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres R&B, Pop, Rock
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1959–68
Labels Laurie Records
Associated acts The Ronettes, Ronnie Spector
The Ronettes: Estelle Bennett (right)

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.

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]


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.

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 onstage for a final bow with the rest of the Ronettes after the performance of "Be My Baby".[1][4]

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]

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' breakup and that she had subsequently been homeless in New York.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d Sisario, Ben (February 13, 2009). "Estelle Bennett, a singer for the Ronettes, is dead at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Leigh, Spencer (February 14, 2009). "Estelle Bennett: Singer with the Ronettes". The Independent. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Williams, Richard (February 15, 2009). "Estelle Bennett". The Guardian. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Sisario, Ben (February 17, 2009). "A Life of Troubles Followed a Singer's Burst of Fame". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  5. ^ "". Archived from the original on March 4, 2009.
  6. ^ "Singer's life unraveled after Ronettes". The Columbus Dispatch. February 18, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Stein, Sadie (February 17, 2009). "Dying In Obscurity's Not Just Tragic When You're Famous". JEZEBEL. Retrieved December 9, 2019.

External links