Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of ’60s group The Ronettes, known for hits such as ‘Be My Baby’, ‘Walking in the Rain’, and ‘Baby I Love You’, has died after a “brief battle with cancer,” according to a statement from her family.
“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 statement read. “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.”
Ronnie Spector was born in 1943 as Veronica Yvette Bennett. She rose to fame at the age of 18, performing with her older sister and cousin at various New York clubs. In 1964, the group released their only album, ‘Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica’ on Philles Records, the label co-owned by Phil Spector, who would later become her husband. Five of the 12 songs made it into the US Billboard charts, with ‘Be My Baby’ making the UK’s top five.
The Spectors’ troubled marriage has been widely documented in the press and was the subject of a 2020 biopic adapted from the singer’s memoir ‘Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness.’ In it, among other allegations of abuse, she described how her husband had installed a gold coffin with a glass top in the basement of their house, promising that he would kill her and display her corpse if she ever left him. She divorced him in 1972. Phil Spector died in prison in 2020 from complications related to Covid-19. He was serving a 19 years-to-life sentence for the 2003 murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson.
After The Ronettes broke up in 1967, Ronnie Spector went on to have a solo career, enjoying fluctuating success. Her vocal style was a huge influence on the artists of the era, and was said to have inspired the likes of both The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Despite objections from Phil Spector, The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.