The American singer Ronnie Spector, leader of the group Les Ronettes and unforgettable voice of the hit “Be My baby”, died Wednesday at the age of 78.
“Our beloved angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” his loved ones said in a statement. “Ronnie has lived his life with a sparkle in his eye, a spirited demeanor, a fierce sense of humor and a smile on his face,” his family adds.
Ronnie Spector was born Veronica Greenfield on August 10, 1943, in New York, to an African-American and Native American mother and father of Irish descent, in the neighborhood of Spanish Harlem. She had formed the Ronettes with her sister, Estelle Bennett and her cousin Nedra Talley.
The group made a name for itself in the New York area, with its soulful love songs, before signing in 1963 with legendary producer Phil Spector, soon to be Ronnie’s husband.
With their seductive eyes, XXL hairstyle and skirts above the knees, the Ronettes unrolled a series of hits in the early 1960s, including “Baby, I love you”, “(The Best Part of) Breakin ‘Up Or “Be My Baby,” which was inducted into the 1999 Grammy Hall of Fame.
The song, emblematic of Phil Spector’s symphonic production style known as “Wall of Sound”, has been used as a soundtrack in films like “Mean Streets” by Martin Scorsese (1973) or “Dirty Dancing” ( 1987).
Opening act for The Beatles in 1966
Along with the Supremes, the Ronettes were one of the most popular groups of the era, and the only girl group to tour with the Beatles, opening their act in 1966.
When the trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards remembered opening their act in the 1960s. nothing. They touched my heart at that moment and they still touch it, ”he said.
Separation in 1967
The Ronettes separated in 1967 and the following year Ronnie married Phil Spector, known to have been one of the greatest rock’n’roll producers in history, but jailed for murder in 2009.
The couple divorced in 1974 and Ronnie Spector recounted in an autobiography the years of suffering and abuse she suffered with her former husband.
After the Ronettes, Ronnie Spector continued a solo career, punctuated by several collaborations with artists such as Eddie Money and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
His 2006 album, “The Last of the Rock Stars,” included collaborations with Keith Richards and Patti Smith.