Ronnie Spector, singer of the Ronettes and unforgettable voice of “Be My baby”, died at 78

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Ronnie Spector, legendary singer of the Ronettes died on Wednesday January 12 at the age of 78. She was battling cancer, her family said in a statement.

American singer Ronnie Spector, leader of the group the Ronettes and unforgettable voice of the hit “Be My baby”, died Wednesday at the age of 78, announced his family. “Our beloved angel, Ronnie, passed away peacefully from this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” his loved ones said in a statement. “Ronnie lived his life with a twinkle in his eye, a high spirited attitude, a fierce sense of humor and a smile on his face,” his family add.

Ronnie Spector was born Veronica Greenfield on August 10, 1943, in New York, to an African-American and Native American mother and a father of Irish descent, in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood. She had formed the Ronettes with her sister, Estelle Bennett and her cousin Nedra Talley. The band rose to prominence in the New York area with their soulful love songs, before signing in 1963 with legendary producer Phil Spector, soon to be husband of Ronnie.

With their seductive eyes, their XXL hairstyle and their skirts above the knees, the Ronettes rolled out a series of hits in the early 60s, including “Baby, I love you”, “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up “, or “Be My Baby”, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The song, emblematic of Phil Spector’s symphonic production style known as the “Wall of Sound”, has been used as the soundtrack in films like Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” (1973) or “Dirty Dancing” ( 1987).

A solo career

Along with the Supremes, the Ronettes were one of the most popular groups of the time, and the only girl group to tour with the Beatles, opening for themselves in 1966. Upon the trio’s induction at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards recalled opening for them in the 1960s. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart at that moment and they are still affecting him,” he said.

The Ronettes separated in 1967 and the following year Ronnie married Phil Spector, known for being one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll producers in history, but imprisoned for murder in 2009. The couple divorced in 1974 and Ronnie Spector recounted in an autobiography the years of suffering and abuse she suffered with her former husband. After the Ronettes, Ronnie Spector continued a solo career, punctuated by several collaborations with artists such as Eddie Money and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. His 2006 album, “The Last of the Rock Stars”, included collaborations with Keith Richards and Patti Smith.