Ronnie Spector 1943 – 2022

The renowned vocalist sang such classics as "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You."

By Andy Kahn Jan 13, 2022 6:54 am PST

Ronnie Spector, who led the 1960s vocal group The Ronettes, died on Wednesday at age 78. Her family confirmed her death which came after “a brief battle with cancer.” Read the full statement below:

Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer. 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. She was filled with love and gratitude.

Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her.

In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund.

A celebration of Ronnie’s life and music will be announced in the future.

The family respectfully asks for privacy at this time.

Born Veronica Yvette Bennett on August 10, 1943, she grew up in New York City. She formed the Darling Sisters vocal group with her sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley. The trio became known as The Ronettes, rising in popularity in the early-1960s.

As the lead vocalist of The Ronettes, Spector achieved fame in the mid-1960s singing such now-classic hits as “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You,” “Walking in the Rain,” “Do I Love You,” “The Best Part of Breaking Up,” and others. The Ronettes became an international success, rising to prominence around the world, particularly in the United Kingdom. The Beatles personally requested The Ronettes to be their opening act on their first tour of the United States in August 1966. Shortly after the tour, The Ronettes – who were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007 – broke up and Spector began her solo career.

After backing Jimi Hendrix in 1970 on “Earth Blues,” Spector issued her solo single, “Try Some, Buy Some,” in 1971. The track was released on The Beatles’ Apple Records and was produced by George Harrison, who appeared on the recording along with John Lennon and Ringo Starr. In 1973, Spector resurrected The Ronettes under the banner of Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes. The short-lived reformation released a few singles before disbanding again a couple of years later.

In 1976, Spector recorded a version of Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye To Hollywood,” which was influenced by Spector’s early hit singles, with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band backing her on the track. That same year saw Spector accompany Southside Johnny on “You Mean So Much To Me,” which was written by Springsteen. Spector’s first solo album, Siren was released in 1980.

Spector joined Eddie Money in 1986 on a recording of “Take Me Home Tonight,” which rose to No. 4 on the Billboard 100 chart. The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award. Her sophomore album, Unfinished Business, came out in 1987. Spector’s memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness was published in 1990.

Phil Spector produced The Ronettes in the 1960s, employing his signature Wall Of Sound recording technique. Ronnie and Phil were married between 1968 and 1972. In her memoir, Ronnie detailed Phil’s extensive physical and emotional abuse that occurred during their tumultuous relationship. Phil Spector died last year at the age 81 while serving a prison sentence after being convicted in the killing of actress Lana Clarkson.

In 1999, “Be My Baby” was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame and in 2006 it was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Also in 1999, Ronnie released She Talks To Rainbows, an EP produced by Joey Ramone and issued by Kill Rock Stars made up of covers songs by Johnny Thunders, Ramones and The Beach Boys. The following year, Ronnie was successful in a landmark court case regarding collecting past due royalty payments from recordings made in the 1950s and 1960s.

Subsequent solo albums were released, including Something’s Gonna Happen in 2003, Last of the Rock Stars in 2006 and English Heart in 2016. In 2017, Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes released the single “Love Power,” marking the group’s first release in several years.

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