Ronnie Spector dead at 78 – The Ronettes singer behind hit Be My Baby passes away

Ronnie Spector dead at 78 – The Ronettes singer behind hit Be My Baby passes away

01/14/2022

SINGER Ronnie Spector, famed for hits such as "Be My Baby", died on Wednesday aged 78 after a brief battle with cancer.

The rock'n'roll siren was the leader of the girl group The Ronettes, who also celebrated hits such as “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.”


Her family said in a statement announcing her death that she had a brief battle with cancer but no other details were revealed.

“Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor, and a smile on her face," her family said.

"She was filled with love and gratitude."

The Ronettes befriended The Beatles and toured with The Rolling Stones at the height of their fame as one of the premier acts of the girl-group era.

Spector's sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley made up the other members of the group.

They were known for their sexy look and powerful voices, as well as for scoring many of their biggest hits.

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“We weren’t afraid to be hot. That was our gimmick,” Spector said in her memoir.

“When we saw The Shirelles walk on stage with their wide party dresses, we went in the opposite direction and squeezed our bodies into the tightest skirts we could find.

"Then we’d get out on stage and hike them up to show our legs even more.”

Born Veronica Bennett, Spector grew up in Manhattan and began singing and dancing in clubs as Ronnie and the Relatives.

They became known for their heavy use of eyeliner and mascara.

“The louder they applauded, the more mascara we put on the next time,” she said in her memoir.

“We didn’t have a hit record to grab their attention, so we had to make an impression with our style. None of it was planned out; we just took the look we were born with and extended it.”

'THE BEST FEELING'

They were signed to Phillies Records in 1963, first acting as backup for other groups.

That was until Phil Spector had the group record “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You.”

The Ronettes' first album “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica" was released in 1964.

Five of its tracks made it to the US Billboard charts.

“Nothing excites me more than just being onstage, having fun and flirting and winking to the guys and stuff like that,” Spector told People Magazine in 2017.

“I just have so much fun. It’s just the best feeling when I go out and they say, 'Ladies and gentlemen…' —my heart stops for a minute—'…Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes!'

"Then I just go out there and the crowd reacts the way they react and I can go on singing forever.”

'ABUSIVE MARRIAGE'

She married Phil Spector in 1968, a year after the group split up following a tour in Germany.

Yet in her 1990 memoir, she claimed that he kept her locked in their Beverly Hills mansion.

“Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness” detailed the unhappy story of her abuse.

They divorced in 1974 and Phil Spector went to prison in 2000 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

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

She was frequently cited by Amy Winehouse as an idol.

"Be My Baby" was used by Martin Scorcese to open his 1973 film "Mean Streets" and is in the title sequence of "Dirty Dancing."


More to follow…

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