Ronnie Spector, lead singer of The Ronettes, dead at 78

Ronnie Spector, lead singer of The Ronettes, dead at 78

"Ronnie peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer," the family said in a statement.

Trailblazing 60s pop icon Ronnie Spector has died at 78 after a battle with cancer.  

Her death was announced by her family in a statement, according to CNN. "Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer," the family said. "She was with family and in the arms of her husband, Jonathan. Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor, and a smile on her face."

The singer, with her sultry, quavering voice, and her beehive hairstyle, powered numerous hits for The Ronettes, including "Be My Baby." Born in 1943 in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood of New York City as Veronica Yvette Bennett, she shot to fame when she was just 18 once she started performing with her older sister and cousin, per BBC



Ronnie, her sister, Estelle, and their cousin, Nedra Talley, began their career by singing at New York "sock hops," or informal sponsored teenage dance events, and Jewish bar mitzvah parties, mentioned Reuters. The trio first performed as "Ronnie and the Relatives" before becoming the Ronettes and signing on with Colpix Records, a Columbia Pictures subsidiary, in 1961.

IN 1963, the trio got a chance to audition with Phil Spector, one of the top music producers of the 60s, who went on to work with the Beatles on their album "Let It Be," as well big names such as Leonard Cohen and Ike and Tina Turner. Then, with Phil Spector producing, the Ronettes dominated music charts with hits such as "Be My Baby", "Do I Love You" and "Walking in the Rain." They also were featured on his holiday album "A Christmas Gift to You", where they three songs, including the Christmas classic "Sleigh Ride."



Eventually, the singer and producer began dating and got married in 1968, but their marriage was short-lived. Apparently, Phil kept her locked in their Beverly Hills mansion, and he threatened to kill her if she tried to leave. Finally, in 1972, she managed to escape barefoot from the mansion.

Her 1990 autobiography, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, And Madness, talks about how she was abused by the producer. The couple divorced in 1974. Phil Spector was sent to prison in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and died in 2021 from COVID-19, according to AP.  

In 2006, she released “Last of the Rock Stars,” which was her first album in 20 years and it featured appearances by the Raconteurs, Keith Richards, Patti Smith, and The Raveonettes. In 2010 she released a doo-wop Christmas EP called “Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Ever” and in 2016 released “English Heart,” her covers of songs from Britain in the ’60s.



Spector is survived by her husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and two sons, Jason and Austin.






Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Stephen Lovekin

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