- Singer Ronnie Spector has died.
- She performed 1960s hits like “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.
- She was the leader of the band The Ronettes; she died at 78 years old
Singer Ronnie Spector has died. Ronnie Spector, the rock ‘n’ roll siren with thick eyelashes and big hair, who performed hits from the 1960s such as “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain” as leader of The Ronettes, has died. She was 78 years old, according to information from the AP and Infobae.
Spector passed away Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer, according to her family. “Ronnie lived her life with a sparkle in her eyes, a courageous attitude, a twisted sense of humor, and a smile on her face. She was full of love and gratitude,” they said in a statement. No other details were provided.
HOW DID SHE BECOME FAMOUS?
The Ronettes’ sultry style and powerful vocals – assisted with lyrics and production by Phil Spector – made them one of the most famous artists of the girl group era. They toured England with the Rolling Stones and were friends with the Beatles.
Spector, along with her sister Estelle Bennett and her cousin Nedra Talley, made major hits with classics such as “Baby, I Love You”, “Walking in the Rain”, “I Can Hear Music” and “Be My Baby”, co-written by Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich.
WHAT WAS HER SECRET?
“We weren’t afraid of being sexy. That was our secret,” Spector said in her memoir. “When we saw The Shirelles walk on stage in their big party dresses, we went the other way and wrapped our bodies in the tightest skirts we could find. Then we went on stage and hiked them up to show our legs a little more.”
Spector, whose real name was Veronica Bennett, and her multiracial bandmates grew up in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. They began singing and dancing at clubs under the name, Ronnie and The Relatives, becoming famous for their liberal use of eyeliner and mascara. Filed Under: Singer Ronnie Spector Dies
WHAT DID SHE DO AT CONCERTS TO GET ATTENTION?
“The more they clapped the more mascara we put on next time,” she wrote in her memoirs. “We didn’t have a hit to get their attention, so we had to make an impression with our style. None of that was planned, we just took the style we were born with and expanded it.”
In March 1963 Estelle Bennett got an audition with Phil Spector, known for his bass style and amplified percussion nicknamed the “wall of sound.” They signed with Phillies Records that same year and after that they did backing vocals for other artists until Spector had the group record “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You.”
HOW DID HER CAREER START?
The group’s debut album, “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica,” was released in 1964. Five of their 12 songs made it to the charts in the United States. “Nothing excites me more than being on stage and having fun and flirting and winking at guys and things like that,” she told People magazine in 2017.
“I just have so much fun. It’s the best feeling going out when they say ‘ladies and gentlemen’… my heart stops for a minute… ‘Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes!’ then just go out and have the audience react the way they react, I can start singing non-stop.” Filed Under: Singer Ronnie Spector Dies
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE GROUP SPLIT?
After touring Germany in 1967, The Ronettes parted ways. Phil Spector married Ronnie in 1968, after which she went on to say that he kept her locked up in his mansion in Beverly Hills. Her 1990 autobiography, “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness”, tells a sad story of abuse. The couple divorced in 1974. Phil Spector was sentenced to prison in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and passed away in 2020.
Ronnie Spector’s influence was felt a lot. Brian Wilson became obsessed with “Be My Baby” and Billy Joel wrote “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” in honor of Spector. Amy Winehouse used to cite Spector as her idol. Filed Under: Singer Ronnie Spector Dies
WHAT MOVIES USED HER SONG ‘BE MY BABY’?
Martin Scorsese used “Be My Baby” at the beginning of his 1973 film “Mean Streets”. The song appears in the sequence of “Dirty Dancing” titles and the ending credits from “Baby Mama”. It also appeared on television in “Moonlighting” and “The Wonder Years”.
When The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones recalled opening for the trio in England in the mid-1960s. “They could sing through the wall of sound,” Richards said. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart right there back then and they still touch it.”
WHAT DID SHE DO AFTER THE GROUP SPLIT?
After the Ronettes split, Spector continued to tour and make music, including “Take Me Home Tonight” with Eddie Money, she also recorded Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. The EP “She Talks to Rainbows” came out in 1999 and included her first recording of “Don’t Worry Baby,” written for her by Brian Wilson.
In 2006 she released “Last of the Rock Stars”, her first album in 20 years with collaborations with The Raconteurs, Keith Richards, Patti Smith and The Raveonettes. In 2010 she released a Christmas EP entitled “Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Ever” and in 2016 “English Heart”, an album of covers of 1960s British songs. She is survived by her husband Jonathan Greenfield and their sons Jason and Austin.