How Ronnie Spector Helped Eddie Money Score His Biggest Hit
The late Ronnie Spector was a legend but not exactly at a career high point when Eddie Money gave her a ticket back to music paradise with his 1986 hit "Take Me Home Tonight."
It had been a good two-plus decades away from the charts for Spector, who'd last hit the Top 40 with the Ronettes' 1964 single "Walking in the Rain." She'd continued working, but her solo career — including a brief stint on the Beatles' Apple Records, collaborations with Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes and a cover of Billy Joel's "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" — never caught fire.
Spector died Wednesday at the age of 78, following a brief battle with cancer.
"When I called her up, I heard a bunch of clinkin' and clankin' in the background," Money, who died in 2019, previously told UCR. "I said, 'What are you doin'?' She said, 'I'm doing the dishes.' I said, 'What?!' She said, 'I got a couple kids. I don't sing anymore.' I told her, 'Honey, it's time to sing again.'"
The vehicle was "Take Me Home Tonight," a song slated for Money's sixth album, Can't Hold Back. He was in a bit of career doldrums himself and was open to having potential hits pitched his way. Producer Richie Zito brought in "Take Me Home Tonight," written by Mick Leeson and Peter Vale. Although Money claimed not to like the song at first, when he heard the track's refrain of "Just like Ronnie said ... 'Be my little baby,'" interpolating the Ronettes' 1963 hit "Be My Baby," a proverbial light bulb went off.
But not immediately.
Watch Eddie Money's 'Take Me Home Tonight' Video With Ronnie Spector
"They wanted me to use Martha Davis [of the Motels]," Money recalled. "And I'm going, 'I love Martha,' 'cause her boyfriend was my guitar player back in the '70s, 'but let's try to get Ronnie Spector, for Chrissakes!' Why wouldn't you, y'know? Who else is gonna sing, 'Be my little baby'?"
Davis concurred and encouraged Money to use Spector. "[Money] called me and said, 'Ronnie, I need your help with this. It needs you to be on it,'" Spector told this writer during a separate interview. "I said, 'Baby, I don't do that anymore,' but he was insistent."
"I knew 'Take Me Home Tonight' was gonna be huge, because it had two choruses: the 'Take me home tonight' part and then 'Be my little baby,'" Money explained. "Ronnie's such a sweetheart to come do that cut for me, and the video was amazing. The whole thing was a lot of fun."
It was, of course, a win all around. "Take Me Home Tonight" hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart, giving Money his biggest hit in four years and the highest-charting single of his career. Its success pushed Can't Hold Back to No. 20 on the Billboard 200 and a platinum certification. The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1987 and provided the title for the 2011 romantic comedy film that starred Topher Grace and Anna Faris.
"Take Me Home Tonight" also brought Spector back to active duty. She launched her regular Ronnie Spector's Christmas Party at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York and collaborated with Misfits and the Raveonettes. Joey Ramone produced Spector's 1999 EP She Talks to Rainbows, and she released two other EPs and three full-length solo albums in addition to publishing a memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, in 1990.
"She got the bug back when she did ['Take Me Home Tonight']," Money said. "When she got into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame [with the Ronettes in 2007], the first thing she did was thank me. It really worked out great for both of us."