Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ronnie Spector, the 60s icon who sang the song “Be My Baby”, has died at the age of 78.

LOS ANGELES – Ronnie Spector, a cat-eyed rock and roll siren with a bee-hive, performing 1960s hits like “Be My Baby”, “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain” as leader groups. The female group The Ronettes has died. She was 78 years old.

Spector died on Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer, her family said. “Ronnie has lived her life with a sparkle in her eyes, a passionate character, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She was filled with love and gratitude, ”the statement reads. No other details were reported.

The sexy looks and powerful voices of the Ronettes, as well as Phil Spector’s songwriting and production help, have made them one of the leading bands of the girl group era, touring England with the Rolling Stones and befriending the Beatles.

Spector, along with his sister Estelle Bennet and cousin Nedra Talley, have recorded hits with such pop masterpieces as “Baby, I Love You”, “Walking in the Rain”, “I Can Hear Music” and “Be My Baby”. written by Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich.

“We weren’t afraid to be hot. It was our trick, ”Spector said in her memoir. “When we saw The Shirelles take the stage in their wide gowns, we went in the opposite direction and squeezed into the tightest skirts we could find. Then we went on stage and lifted them up to show our legs even more. “

Ronnie Spector performs at the Sala Apolo stage in June 2018 in Barcelona, ​​Spain. Photo by Jordi Vidal / Redferns

Spector, née Veronica Bennett, and her multicultural bandmates grew up in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. They began singing and dancing in clubs like Ronnie and the Relatives, becoming notable for their abundant use of eyeliner and mascara.

“The louder they applauded, the more mascara we applied next time,” she wrote in her memoir. “We didn’t have a hit record to get their attention, so we had to impress with our style. None of this was planned; we just took the image we were born with and expanded it. “

In March 1963, Estelle Bennett was able to audition for Phil Spector, known for his big, brass and drum style, dubbed the “wall of sound.” They signed to Phillies Records in 1963. After signing, they sang backing vocals for other artists until Spector recorded the band Be My Baby and Baby I Love You.

The band’s debut album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica was released in 1964. Five of the 12 tracks hit the US Billboard charts.

“Nothing excites me more than just being on stage, having fun, flirting, winking at guys and the like,” she told People magazine in 2017. “I’m just having 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 Ronetta!” Then I just go out there, and the crowd reacts the way they do, and I can go on singing forever. “

After touring Germany in 1967, the Ronettes disbanded. Spector married Ronnie in 1968 when she said he kept her locked up in their Beverly Hills mansion. Her 1990 autobiography Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Frenzy tells an unfortunate story of abuse. The couple divorced in 1974. Phil Spector was sent to prison in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and died in 2020.

Ronnie Spector

Ronnie Spector at CBS Records Studios in Soho Square, London. Photo taken in 1977. Photo by Tom Sheehan / Sony Music Archive via Getty Images.

Ronnie Spector’s influence was felt everywhere. Brian Wilson became obsessed with “Be My Baby” and Billy Joel wrote “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” in honor of Spector. Amy Winehouse often referred to Spector as an idol.

Martin Scorsese used Be My Baby to open his 1973 film Wicked Streets, and this song appears in the title section of Dirty Dancing and in the closing credits of Baby Mama. He also appeared on television in the films 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 the trio’s opening act in England in the mid-1960s. “They could sing all the way through the wall of sound,” Richards said. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart right here and then, and they touch it to this day. “

After the Ronettes disbanded, Spector continued to tour and make music, including Take Me Home Tonight with Eddie Money, Joel’s recording of Say Goodbye to Hollywood with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, and the 1999 EP She Talks to Rainbows. Which included her first recording, 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, featuring Raconteurs, Keith Richards, Patti Smith and the Raveonettes. In 2010 she released a Christmas mini-album titled Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas, and in 2016 she released English Heart, her covers of 60s British songs.

She is survived by her husband Jonathan Greenfield and two sons, Jason and Austin.

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