Music

Ronnie Spector, Lead Ronette and “Be My Baby” Singer, Dies at 78

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Ronnie Spector, lead singer of beloved ’60s girl group the Ronettes, has died from cancer, her family announced Wednesday. She was 78. 

On her website, the family’s statement reads, “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 [Greenfield]. 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.”

Born Veronica Bennett in 1943 in Harlem, Ronnie rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the Ronettes, a group she formed with her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedre Talley. Their song “Be My Baby” was their biggest hit, and they joined the Beatles on their U.S. tour in 1966.

From 1968 until 1974, she was married to Phil Spector, who produced many of the band’s records and died almost exactly a year ago. In her memoir, Be My Baby, she detailed his refusal to let her out of their home, among other allegations of emotional abuse. Spector was convicted of murder in 2009 and died while serving his sentence, but as Ronnie wrote on Instagram after his death, “I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.”

In 1982 she married manager Jonathan Greenfield, and her group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Her family wrote that she requested donations to local women’s shelters or the American Indian College Fund in lieu of flowers, noting that a celebration of life would be forthcoming.

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