Ronnie Spector, Iconic Voice Of 1960s Pop, Has Died At 78

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Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the popular ’60s girl group, The Ronettes, has died at the age of 78. A public statement from Spector’s family said the “Be My Baby” vocalist died on Jan. 12, following a brief battle with cancer.

“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,” said the statement, which was posted on the singer’s website. “Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her.”

According to the statement, a celebration of Spector’s life and music will be announced in the future.

Ronnie Spector poses on the red carpet in 2010.
AP Photo/Peter Kramer

Fellow celebrities, including other musicians of Spector’s generation, honored her musical legacy and her friendship to them over the years.

Brian Wilson, the legendary leader of The Beach Boys, shared a video on Twitter of Spector visiting him in 2002 before a performance in New York City.

“I just heard the news about Ronnie Spector and I don’t know what to say,” Wilson posted. “I loved her voice so much and she was a very special person and a dear friend. This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever.

Darlene Love, another iconic ’60s songstress, shared her shock at the news of Spector’s death on her Facebook page, along with some pictures of the two of them together on stage over the years,

“I’m in total shock!” Love posted. “Did not see this one coming. Please give me time to process my thoughts to give Ronnie the proper tribute she deserves. She and I shared so much together.”

Spector, who was born Veronica Bennett, teamed up with her sister, Estelle, and cousin, Nedra Talley, to form The Ronettes in the early 1960s. Spector’s vocals helped The Ronettes to put nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the group’s career. They were a central part of the “Wall of Sound” era conceived by disgraced music producer Phil Spector, to whom Spector was briefly married.

The Ronettes, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, toured with acts such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, according to The New York Times. In the group’s early days, Spector was known simply as Veronica, as you can see on the cover of their 1964 debut, “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes.” The album was eventually named one of the 500 greatest records of all time by Rolling Stone.

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Her music continued to be heard for decades, when the group’s most popular song, “Be My Baby,” was used in a number of movies including “Dirty Dancing.” In 1987, she made a major comeback on her powerhouse 1986 duet with Eddie Money, “Take Me Home Tonight.”

Her life will continue to be celebrated by another new generation when a biopic called “Be My Baby” is eventually released. The film will star Emmy Award-winning actor Zendaya as Spector.

Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

In a 2007 interview with New Zealand’s Elsewhere, Spector talked about her abusive marriage to Phil Spector, whom she divorced in 1973, and her life following that period. She met and married Jonathan Greenfield, with whom she had two sons, and always kept music in her life.

“Every song is a little piece of my life,” she said in the interview.