Ronnie Spector, icon of girl group who sang “Be My Baby”, dies at 78

Musician Ronnie Spector performs at the 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on March 15, 2010. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson / File Photo

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Jan. 12 (Reuters) – Ronnie Spector, the pioneer singer of the 1960s American “girl group” The Ronettes, whose voice has graced hits such as “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You”, has died in the age of 78, relatives said Wednesday.

Spector, inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 as a member of the Harlem-based Spanish female trio, died surrounded by loved ones and in the arms of her husband, Jonathan Greenfield, after a brief battle with cancer, the family said in a statement.

“Ronnie lived her life with a sparkle in her eyes, a brave demeanor, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She was filled with love and gratitude,” the family said.

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“Her cheerful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in everyone who knew, heard or seen her.”

Spector, born Ronnie Bennett, grew up in the Spanish Quarter of Harlem in New York. She and her sister, Estelle, and their cousin, Nedra Talley, began performing at a young age, first singing in New York sock hops, or sponsored informal teenage dance events, and Jewish bar mitzvah evenings.

The trio first performed as “Ronnie and the Relatives” before becoming the Ronettes and signing with Colpix Records, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, in 1961.

In 1963, the Ronettes got an audition with Phil Spector, one of the top music producers of the 1960s who continued to work with the Beatles on their album “Let It Be”, as well as with artists such as Leonard Cohen and Ike and Tina Turner.

Hearing Ronnie sing a version of Frankie Lymon’s 1956 hit “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, Phil Spector jumped up from his piano and said, “This is the voice I was looking for!” according to a report by Hollywood trade publication Variety.

With Phil Spector in production, the Ronettes topped the music charts with hits such as “Be My Baby” and “Do I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain”. They also appeared on her holiday album “A Christmas Gift to You” performing three songs, including the energetic Christmas classic “Sleigh Ride”.

The singer and producer started an affair and married in 1968, with the singer taking her last name. Years after the couple split in 1972, Ronnie Spector went public with allegations that she had become a virtual captive in their home, subjected to abuse by a possessive husband as she turned to alcohol for herself. escape.

Phil Spector died last year at the age of 81 from COVID-19 while serving a life sentence for murder during the 2003 filming of a Hollywood actress.

Ronnie Spector had a musical comeback in the 1980s when she appeared in American rock star Eddie Money’s hit single “Take Me Home Tonight”, and collaborated with bands like Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.

During the Ronettes Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards recalled the first time he heard Ronnie Spector sing.

“I hear this wonderful little song put together, by Nedra and Estelle, and I realize I’m listening to the Ronettes, then that pure, pure voice over the ‘Be My Baby’ vocals,” Richards said. , referring to the singer.

“They touched my heart right there, and they touch it again,” said Richards.

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Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Steve Gorman and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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