One of the most striking voices of the girl music groups of the 1960s has been stilled.
Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, died Wednesday at the age of 78.
Spector, who was married to music producer Phil Spector, became a sassy legend in music circles and in the memories of baby boomers with songs such as “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You,” and “Walking in the Rain.”
Spector had battled cancer, her family revealed, according to a statement posted on her website.
“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,” the statement read.
“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,” the statement continued, asking that anyone wishing to make donations make them out to local women’s shelters or the American Indian College Fund.
Beginning their career as Ronnie and the Relatives, Spector, born Veronica Bennett, sang with her sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley.
“We weren’t afraid to be hot. That was our gimmick,” Spector said in her memoir, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Spector said the group was bold with their makeup as well.
“The louder they applauded, the more mascara we put on the next time,” she wrote.
“We didn’t have a hit record to grab their attention, so we had to make an impression with our style. None of it was planned out; we just took the look we were born with and extended it,” she said.
The group released its debut album in 1964. “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica” included five singles that made the Billboard charts.
“Nothing excites me more than just being on stage, having fun and flirting and winking to the guys and stuff like that,” she told People in a 2017 interview. “I just have so much fun. It’s just the best feeling when I go out and they say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen …’ — my heart stops for a minute — ‘… Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes!’ Then I just go out there and the crowd reacts the way they react and I can go on singing forever.’
The Ronettes broke up in 1967. Ronnie Spector married Phil Spector in 1968. They divorced in 1974.
When the Ronettes were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones recalled opening for the group in the 1960s.
“They could sing all their way right through a wall of sound,” Richards said. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart right there and then and they touch it still.”
Spector is survived by her husband, Jonathan Greenfield, and two sons, Jason and Austin.
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