Ronnie Spector, Leader Of The Ronettes, Dies At 78
Ronnie Spector, the vocalist who thrilled generations of pop lovers as the leader of 60s girl group The Ronettes, has died, aged 78.
Ronnie’s family announced the news in a post on the singer’s official website: “Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer. 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.”
Ronnie Spector was born Veronica Bennett in Spanish Harlem in New York City. She formed a pop group with older sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley and began releasing music in the early 60s, first on Colpix Records. The group were discovered by DJ Murray Kaufman, aka “Murray the K,” who hired them as dancers at Brooklyn’s Fox theater.
Ronnie was still just 19 when The Ronettes released the timeless hit single Be My Baby, a song that remains one of the cornerstones of pop music and the defining sound of the girl group era. After that, the hits kept coming – Walking In The Rain, Do I Love You, Baby I Love You – songs that excited and pulled at the heartstrings in equal measure while influencing generations of musicians. The Ronettes were also style icons, Ronnie’s towering beehive, heavy make-up and fitted dresses combined with her sass and intelligence to create a new kind of female role model.
The Ronettes split in 1967 and Ronnie began a solo career, beginning with the George Harrison-written single Try Some, Buy Some in 1971. Though it was a modest success, follow-up singles were sporadic and failed to build on the momentum. In 1980, Ronnie released her debut solo albumn, Siren, featuring Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, a Ramones cover version that saw her acknowledge the punk groups who had taken so much from her 60s work. She continued to release music throughout her career with most recent album, 2016’s English Heart, a love letter to the 60s beat groups she’d influenced.
Ronnie also wrote the unflinching memoir, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, And Madness, an often-shocking account of her life in the music business. In recent years, she was a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, speaking of her own experiences and supporting fellow victims of abuse.
Tributes to Ronnie from the world of music and beyond have started to pour in, The Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson was among those paying their respects, saying: “I loved her voice so much and she was a very special person and a dear friend. This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever.”