Ronnie Spector, the legendary singer of The Ronettes, has died at the age of 78, it has been announced.
A statement issued by her family last night (January 12) read:
“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.
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.”
As a member of the Ronettes, Ronnie Spector helped influence and define the sound and look of rock music just as she did pop. Her vocal stylings would go on to inspire the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Beach Boys producer Brian Wilson, while her fashion statements such as her iconic beehive would go on to be homaged by the likes of Amy Winehouse and Dusty Springfield.
Only releasing one album together (Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica), The Ronettes are probably best known for their single Be My Baby, which became their first and only UK Top 10 hit, peaking at Number 4 on the Official Singles Chart.
One of the most influential pop records ever, Be My Baby is perhaps the most notable example of the 'Wall of Sound' technique innovated by several Ronette records by their controversial producer, Phil Spector, whose marriage to Ronnie ended in the 1970s, beset by allegations of physical and mental abuse.
The Ronettes split in 1967, and Ronnie embarked on a solo career with Try Some, Buy Some, a song written for her by George Harrison, and after that failed to do very much, she reformed the Ronettes with new members but didn’t reach the heights of their early career.
Ronnie continued to work with a variety of artists over the last fifty years, duetting with Southside Johnny on the Bruce Springsteen-penned duet You Mean So Much to Me, she also duetted with Johnny Ramone and worked with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Patti Smith, the Raconteurs and many others. In 2011, she recorded a version of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black in tribute as a benefit for addiction centres.
Spector and the other Ronettes sued Phil Spector for $10 million in damages in 1998 for rescission of their contract, the return of the group's masters, and recoupment of money received from the sale of Ronettes masters. It took 10 years for the case to make it to trial, but after a prolonged legal battle, Spector was paid over $1 million in royalties by her former husband.
Spector's memoir - Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, Or, My Life as a Fabulous Ronette - was published in 1990 to acclaim, and is currently being adapted into a feature film, with Euphoria star Zendaya attached to play Spector.
In 1982, Spector married her then-manager Jonathan Greenfield, living in Connecticut with their two sons, until her death.