Ronnie Spector, the icon of the 1960s who sang “Be My Baby”, died at the age of 78

Los Angeles (AP) —Ronnie Spector is a cat-eyed, honeycomb-shaped rock’n’roll siren that sang the 1960s hits “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You,” and “Walking in the Rain.” The leader of Ronnie Spector’s girl group has passed away. She was 78 years old.

Specter died Wednesday after a short fight against cancer, her family said. “Ronnie lived her life with a sparkle in her eyes, a cheerful attitude, an evil sense of humor, and a smile on her face. She was full of love and gratitude.” Other details have not been disclosed.

With Ronettes’ sexy look and powerful voice, as well as songwriting and Phil Spector’s support, The Ronettes became one of the best girl group acts, touring England at the Rolling Stones and becoming friends with The Beatles.

Specter, along with his sister Estelle Bennett and his cousin Nedra Talley, are “Baby, I Love You,” “Walking in the Rain,” “I Can Hear Music,” and “Be My.” Recorded hits with pop masterpieces such as “Baby.” Written by Specter, Jeff Barry and Erie Grinich.

“We weren’t afraid to get hot. That was our gimmick,” Specter said in his memoirs. “When we saw the Shirelles walking on stage in a wide party dress, we went in the opposite direction and pushed our bodies into the tightest skirts we found. Then we went out on stage and hiked. And show your legs more. “

Specter, born Veronica Bennett, and her multi-ethnic bandmate grew up in the Washington Heights area of ​​Manhattan. They began singing and dancing in clubs as relatives to Ronnie, and became remarkable with the free use of eyeliner and mascara.

Video: Ronnie Spector says Phil Spector surprised her with adopted twins

“The more they applaud, the more mascara I’ll wear next time,” she wrote in her memoirs. “We didn’t have a hit song that caught their attention, so we had to make an impression in our style. There was nothing planned. We just saw what we were born with and expanded it.”

In March 1963, Estelle Bennett was able to arrange an audition in front of Phil Spector, known for her large brass and drum style called the “Wall of Sound.” They signed the Phillies record in 1963. After signing, he sang backups of other acts until Specter got the group records “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You”.

The group’s debut album, “A Great Ronettes Presentation Featuring Veronica,” was released in 1964. Five of the twelve songs have appeared on the US Billboard charts.

“There’s nothing more exciting to me than standing on stage, having fun, flirting and winking at those people,” she told People magazine in 2017. It feels great to go out and say “everyone in attendance …”. My heart stops for a moment. “… Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes!” Then I just got out there, the crowd reacted as they reacted, and I could keep singing forever. “

After touring Germany in 1967, the Ronettes broke up. Specter married Ronnie in 1968, after which she said she remained trapped in the Beverly Hills mansion. Her 1990 autobiography, Be My Baby: How to Survive Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, tells the unfortunate story of abuse. The couple divorced in 1974. Phil Spector was sent to jail in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and died in 2020.

The influence of Ronnie Spector was widespread. Brian Wilson was obsessed with “Be My Baby,” and Billy Joel wrote “Say Goodbye Hollywood” in honor of Specter. Amy Winehouse frequently quoted Specter as an idol.

Martin Scorsese used “Be My Baby” to open the 1973 movie “Mean Streets,” which appears in the title sequence of “Dirty Dancing” and the closing credits of “Baby Mom.” .. He also appeared on TV for “Side Business” and “Wonderful Everyday”.

When The Ronettes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones remembered opening a trio in England in the mid-1960s. “They were able to sing through the sound barrier all the time,” Richards said. “They didn’t need anything. They touched my heart on the spot, and they still touched it.”

After the Ronettes disbanded, Specter continued touring and making music, recording “Take Me Home Tonight” with Eddie Money and Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, 1999. We recorded the EP “She Talks to Rainbows”. Includes her first recording of “Don’t Worry Baby” written for her by Brian Wilson. “

In 2006, she released her first album in 20 years, “Last of the Rock Stars,” starring Raconteurs, Keith Richards, Patti Smith and Raveonettes. In 2010 she released a Doo-wop Christmas EP called “Ronnie Spector’s Greatest Christmas Ever” and in 2016 she released “English Heart”, a cover of British songs from the 1960s.

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


Mark Kennedy