There are many great friendships in the music industry, but some might not know about Keith Richards’ life-long friendship with Ronnie Spector. The pair met in 1964 when The Rolling Stones opened for The Ronettes during the girl group’s first tour of the U.K.
During a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Spector explained what it was like being on tour with The Rolling Stones in 1964. It was an ordinary tour. However, it was memorable for Spector because she got close to Richards.
“We were in a car, and they were in a bus following our car,” Spector said. “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.'”
Decades later, in 2007, Richards inducted The Ronettes into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He recalled when he first heard the girl group sing while on that tour. Richards said that The Ronettes could sing their way right through a wall of sound. “They didn’t need anything,” he said. “They touched my heart right there and then and they touch it still.”
“One time, we had to stop driving because of the fog,” Spector recalled. “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.
“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.”
“He and I weren’t dating but we would go out after the show to Wimpy Bars to have hamburgers,” Spector told People. “We didn’t think about drinking — you had soda backstage! Everything back then was so innocent.”
Years after those innocent days were over, Spector and Richards collaborated on Spector’s 2006 album The Last of the Rock Stars. “Keith Richards was there before I even got there,” Spector continued to Rolling Stone. “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.
“But I’ll tell you, nobody has Keith Richards’ heart. He has the biggest, greatest heart.”
Richards and Spector saw a lot of people they loved die. Until Spector recently died, they had each other. They even lived pretty close to each other. “He lives like 15 minutes from me now in Connecticut. So I see him quite a bit,” Spector told People.
Now, Richards has lost a friend. The world has lost a legend.