Ronnie Spector, founder of 1960s hit-maker Ronettes, dead at 78 | Music News

The American group released a string of hit songs in the 1960s, including the ubiquitous Be My Baby.

Ronnie Spector, founder of the hit group Ronettes in the 1960s, has died at the age of 78 after a brief battle with cancer.

With heavy “cat-eye” makeup and high “beehive” hairstyles, the trio of Ronitz embodied the delicate new glamor of the era.

Their spirited successes, a blend of rhythm and blues, doo-wop and pop, have catapulted them to international fame, with their biggest hit Be My Baby continuing as a pop culture mainstay and a nostalgic time capsule.

“My beloved Earth Angel, Ronnie, left this world in peace today after a short battle with cancer,” a statement released by the Spector family read on Wednesday.

“Rooney lived her life with a sparkle in her eyes, a brave attitude, a sinister sense of humor and a smile on her face,” the statement continued.

It was full of love and gratitude. Her cheerful voice, playful nature, and magical presence will continue to be seen by all who knew, heard or seen her.”

Born Veronica Greenfield in the Spanish neighborhood of Harlem, New York on August 10, 1943, Spector was the daughter of an African American mother, a Cherokee mother, and an Irish American father.

As a teenager, she formed the musical group that became known as Ronet with her sister Estelle Bennett and her cousin Nidra Talley.

Together with the Supremes, they became one of the defining acts of the period and the only girl group to tour with the Beatles.

In 2007, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards mentioning Ronet’s opening in the 1960s.

“They can sing all the way right through a wall of sound,” Richards said. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart there and then and they still touch it.”

The Ronettes broke up in 1967 after a European concert tour.

In 1968, Rooney married music producer Phil Spector, who was imprisoned in 2009 for premeditated murder.

The couple separated in 1974 and in her autobiography, the singer recounted years of severe abuse by her ex-husband, who died in 2021.

After the breakup of the Ronettes, Spector continued her solo career, which included a number of collaborations with artists such as Eddie Money and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

On Wednesday, tributes flowed to the singer with rock singer Joan Jett, calling her “the sweetest person you could ever know.”

“And her mark in rock and roll is indelible.”

Beach Boy Brian Wilson wrote on Twitter: “Rooney’s music and spirit will live on forever.”

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