Ronnie Spector, the pioneering lead singer of the Ronettes, a 1960s all-girl ensemble, has died.
With classics like Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, and Walking in the Rain, the pop artist rose to popularity.
Her family released a statement saying, “She died at the age of 78 after a brief fight with cancer.”
She rose to stardom at the age of 18 while performing with her older sister and cousin in Manhattan, where she was born in 1943 as Veronica Yvette Bennett.
She married Phil Spector, the inventor of the “wall of sound” recording technique, in 1968. Before their divorce, they were married for six years and had three children.
Be My Baby, Walking In The Rain, and Baby I Love You were all recorded while he was in charge of the group.
He was, nevertheless, violent and abusive. According to Spector’s memoir, Phil placed a coffin in the basement of their house to warn the singer that if she left him, he would kill her. She ran away from their house barefoot in 1972. Later, the Ronnettes filed a lawsuit against the producer for unpaid royalties. While serving a murder term, he died in prison in 2021.
The Ronettes’ bad-girl reputations are regarded as paving the way for future female performers in the music industry.
It wasn’t only their clothes, though. Spector’s voice was a revelation, full of desire, compassion, and roughness, with a street-wise energy that other girl groups lacked.
Spector’s singing style impacted everyone from The Rolling Stones to The Beatles, and Be My Baby also charted in the UK top five. The Ronettes were hand-picked by the latter for their 1966 US tour, but a resentful Phil Spector refused to allow Ronnie to leave, and the band had to play the dates without her.
Spector’s final album, English Heart, was released in 2016, and it featured covers of 1960s classics such as The Kinks’ Tired of Waiting and Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.