Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, has died at 78 after a battle with cancer.
Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today. 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.Family statement on the passing of Ronnie Spector
Spector, along with her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley, began performing in the late 1950s. In 1963, they attracted the attention of producer Phil Spector, who would become heavily involved with their music. Their song “Be My Baby” was a smash hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Today, many consider it one of the greatest pop songs ever, including Brian Wilson, who borrowed its Wall of Sound production technique for several of the Beach Boys’ records.
The Ronettes also have several songs on Phil Spector’s famous compilation album, A Christmas Gift for You. They would go on to open for the Beatles on their 1996 U.S. tour, and once the group broke up, Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968. Their marriage was extremely abusive, with Spector forbidding Ronnie from performing, holding her against her will in their house, and repeatedly threatening her.
They divorced in 1974, and Spector scored another hit in 1986 by featuring on Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight.” When Money sings “Just like Ronnie sang…” on the chorus, she finishes the line with “Be my little baby,” a homage to the Ronettes’ 60s hit. As of 2020, actress Zendaya was in talks to portray Spector in a biopic.
Spector is survived by her second husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and her sons, Jason and Austin.