Ronnie Spector, founder of 1960s hit-maker Ronettes, dead at 78 | Music News

The American group released a series of soulful hits in the 1960s, including the ubiquitous Be My Baby.

Ronnie Spector, the founder of the hit 1960s band the Ronettes, has died aged 78 following a brief battle with cancer.

Sporting heavy “cat’s eye” makeup and sky-high “beehive” hairstyles, the trio of Ronettes epitomized the new vampy glamor of the era.

Their soul hits, a combination of rhythm and blues, doo wop and pop, propelled them to global fame, with their biggest hit Be My Baby enduring as a nostalgia-tinged mainstay of popular culture. time capsule.

“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, passed away peacefully from this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” read a statement released Wednesday by Spector’s family.

“Ronnie lived his life with a twinkle in his eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on his face,” the statement continued.

“She was filled with love and gratitude. Her cheerful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in everyone who knew, heard or saw her.

Born Veronica Greenfield in New York’s Spanish Harlem on August 10, 1943, Spector was the daughter of an African-American and Cherokee mother and an Irish-American father.

As a teenager, she formed the musical group known as the Ronettes with her sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley.

Along with the Supremes, they became one of the defining acts of the period and the only girl group to tour with the Beatles.

In 2007, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones recalling the opening of the Ronettes in the 1960s.

“They could sing all the way through a wall of sound,” Richards said. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart right away and they still do.

The Ronettes broke up in 1967 after a European concert tour.

In 1968 Ronnie married the music producer Phil Spector, who in 2009 was imprisoned for murder.

The couple divorced in 1974 and in her autobiography, the singer recounted years of extreme abuse from her former husband, who died in 2021.

After the Ronettes broke up, Spector pursued a solo career, which included a number of collaborations with artists such as Eddie Money and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

Tributes poured in for the singer on Wednesday with rocker Joan Jett calling her “the sweetest person you could ever know”.

“And his mark on rock and roll is indelible.”

Beach Boy Brian Wilson wrote on Twitter: “Ronnie’s music and spirit will live on forever.”

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