NEW YORK – Ronnie Spector, the cat-eye, bee-skinned rock ‘n’ roll man who sang 1960s hits like “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain” as the leader of the girl group The Ronettes, has died. She is 78 years old.
Spector died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer, her family said. “Ronnie has lived her life with twinkling eyes, a quick attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She is filled with love and gratitude,” a statement said. No other details have been disclosed.
Devoted to social media, Stevie Van Zandt said it was an honor to produce her, Brian Wilson, who wrote on Twitter: “I love her voice so much and what a person she is. very special and a dear friend.”
The Ronettes’ sexy looks and powerful vocals – plus songwriting and production help from Phil Spector – have made them one of the leading artists of the British girl group era. with The Rolling Stones and befriended The Beatles.
Spector, along with her sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley, have made their mark with pop masterpieces 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.
“We don’t mind the heat. It was our gimmick,” Spector said in his memoir. “When we saw The Shirelles take the stage in their loose party dresses, we went the opposite direction and squeezed our bodies into the tightest dresses we could find. see. Then we would go out onto the stage and climb on them to show off our legs even more. “
Spector, born Veronica Bennett, and her multiracial bandmates grew up in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. They began singing and dancing in clubs as Ronnie and the Relatives, becoming notable for their liberal use of eyeliner and mascara.
“The louder they clapped, the more mascara we put on the next time,” she wrote in her memoir. “We don’t have a track record of catching their attention, so we have to make an impression with our style. None of that was planned; we just took the view we were born with and extended it. “
In March 1963, Estelle Bennett arranged an audition in front of Phil Spector, known for his brass and big drum style that has been dubbed the “wall of sound”. They signed with Phillies Records in 1963. After being signed, they backed up for other acts until Spector had the records “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You”.
The group’s debut album, “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes With Veronica,” was released in 1964. Five of the group’s 12 songs entered the US Billboard charts.
She told People magazine in 2017. “Nothing excites me more than having fun on stage, flirting and winking with guys and stuff like that. It was just the best feeling when I went out and they said, “Ladies and gentlemen…” – my heart stopped beating for a minute – “…Ronnie Spector and Ronettes!” Then I just go out there and the crowd reacts the way they do and I can keep singing forever.”
After a tour in Germany in 1967, the Ronettes disbanded. Spector married Ronnie in 1968, she later said he locked her in their Beverly Hills mansion. Her 1990 autobiography “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness” tells an unfortunate story of abuse. The two divorced in 1974. Phil Spector was jailed in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and died in 2020.
Ronnie Spector’s influence has been felt far and wide. Brian Wilson was obsessed with “Be My Baby,” and Billy Joel wrote “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” in Spector’s honor. Amy Winehouse often considers Spector an idol.
Martin Scorsese used “Be My Baby” as the opening sequence of his 1973 film Mean Streets, and the song appears in the title sequence of “Dirty Dancing” and the ending of “Baby Mama”. It also appeared on TV 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 remembers opening the trio in the UK in the mid-1960s. Richards said: “They could sing their way right away. through a wall of sound. “They don’t need anything. They touched my heart right there and then and they touched it still. “
After the Ronettes disbanded, Spector continued to tour and write music, including “Take Me Home Tonight” with Eddie Money, recording Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and recording an EP 1999 “She Talks to Rainbows”, “Which includes her first recording as “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 and it featured the Raconteurs, Keith Richards, Patti Smith and the Raveonettes. In 2010, she released a doo-wop Christmas EP titled “Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Ever” and in 2016 released “English Heart”, a cover of her 1960s British songs.
She is survived by her husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and two sons, Jason and Austin.
Mark Kennedy at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/60s-icon-ronnie-spector-sang-baby-dies-78-82230668 Ronnie Spector, 60s Icon Singing ‘Be My Baby’, Dies at 78