Ronnie Spector, powerhouse lead singer of the legendary 1960s pop group the Ronettes, died after a fight with cancer.
Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the legendary 1960s pop group the Ronettes, died on Wednesday, January 12th, after a bout with cancer. Spector was 78 years old.
Spector’s family made the announcement on the singer’s official website.In a statement they wrote:
“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer. 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.
In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund.
A celebration of Ronnie’s life and music will be announced in the future.”
The Ronettes consisted of Spector (who originally was named Veronica Bennett), her older sister Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley. The group, who were originally from Spanish Harlem, began officially releasing music in the early 1960s, via Colpix Records. They would strike success early with “Be My Baby,”which was released in 1963 and still is seen as one of the group’s most iconic songs (the song would reach number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.) Over the years they would have other iconic songs, like “Walking in the Rain,” “Baby I Love You,” and their version of “Sleigh Ride.”
Ronettes‘ debut album was Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica and was released in 1964, with five of the 12 tracks charting.
The Ronettes would break up in 1967 and Ronnie Spector would marry Phil Spector (who produced a majority of the group’s music) a year later. Ronnie Spector has spoken openly about how toxic and abusive that marriage was for her. In her 1990 memoir Be My Baby, she alleged that Phil trapped her in a mansion and forbade her from having a career. (She says he surrounded their house with barbed wire and guard dogs.)
Spector eventually escaped the mansion in 1972 with the help from her mother. They divorced in 1974 and in the settlement process In their 1974 divorce settlement, Ronnie forfeited all future record earnings because Phil threatened her life. She would go to launch her own solo career in the ’80s, releasing two albums Siren and Unfinished Business.
In 2007, the Ronettes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, where he said “They could sing all their way right through a wall of sound.”
Spector is survived by her husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and her two sons, Jason and Austin.