Ronnie Spector’s acclaimed 1990 memoir Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness has long been out of print — but the legendary singer was revising the book in the weeks before her death due to cancer at age 78 on Jan. 12, according to publisher Henry Holt, which plans to release a new edition of Be My Baby on May 3.
“She knew that she was sick and I knew that she was sick, but she was being discreet about it,” says Henry Holt’s editor-in-chief, Sarah Crichton. “She was thinking that things would go well. She had a lot of dreams, and we had a lot of dreams.”
After news of Spector’s death broke, Be My Baby became even scarcer: eBay listings of the original printing have bids starting as high as $53, while Amazon has just two copies of the 2015 reprint, selling for around $80 each. The revised 2022 edition is available for preorder here.
Spector and co-author Vince Waldron spent roughly a year working with Crichton on the new edition, and Spector signed off on the final changes just two weeks ago. Spector also wrote a new postscript providing an update on her life in recent years, and she was looking forward to a book tour, according to the editor.
“The book takes on a resonance now that is even bigger than when it was first published,” Crichton says, noting the singer’s abusive marriage to Phil Spector. “He not only kept her trapped behind wired gates, he held her captive. He totally derailed her extremely vital career and he wanted her all to himself. And he also continually threatened to kill her; in time, he eventually did kill somebody. She very much was eager to tell the story that you can survive horrific situations and move on and move past them. Ronnie absolutely saw herself as a survivor.”
Spector’s postscript doesn’t comment extensively on her former husband’s 2003 arrest, subsequent murder conviction, and 2021 death. “She didn’t want to do that,” says Crichton. “She felt that with the book, she had freed herself from that.” Instead, Spector mostly made small revisions to the chapters and made the 1990 language more current. “She always referred to herself as a half-breed, which she liked to say, but that’s not a phrase that we’re comfortable with now,” Crichton says. “It’s not huge changes, but real and helpful positive changes.”
Also new to the edition is a foreword by Keith Richards, a longtime friend and fan of Spector who lived close by her in Connecticut. “He offered this totally delightful introduction, it’s so Keith Richards,” Crichton says. “They shared a dentist, lived just down the road from one another. They’d been playing music together and hanging for all these years, and he could not have been more generous.”