R.I.P. Ronnie Spector, leader of the Ronettes

Ronnie Spector

Ronnie Spector, legendary singer and leader of the ’60s girl group The Ronettes, has died, according to an announcement made on her website from her family. She was 78.

“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” her family writes in the statement. “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.” 

Born Veronica Yvette Bennett in Spanish Harlem in New York, Spector began singing with her sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley as a teenager. They initially called their group The Darling Sisters, later changing it to The Ronettes. They began building up an audience performing around New York in the early 1960s, releasing a handful of singles on Colpix Records before meeting producer Phil Spector, who signed them to his Phillies Records label and produced singles like “Be My Baby,” which became their signature song and reached number two on the Billboard singles chart.

The Ronettes released only one studio album, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, in 1964, though they continued to release singles through the early ’70s. Spector released a series of solo singles through the ’70s, beginning with “Try Some, Buy Some,” and made her solo debut with Siren in 1980. She also had a number of notable collaborations over the years, having worked with Eddie Money, The Misfits, Joey Ramone and The Raveonettes. Her 2006 album The Last of the Rock Stars also included contributions from Patti Smith, Keith Richards and members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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