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Ronnie Spector (1943–2022), lead singer with the Ronettes

by Kirk Fox

Ronnie Spector was the lead singer for the 1960s girl group the Ronettes, whose hits included “Be My Baby.”

Pop music legend

Ronnie Spector (born Veronica Bennett) formed the vocal group the Ronettes with her sister, Estelle Bennett (1941–2009), and their cousin, Nedra Talley. They were a popular live act in the New York City area when they were signed by producer Phil Spector (1939–2021) to his label, Phillies Records, in 1963. The group’s first single, “Be My Baby,” released in August 1963, reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Featuring Ronnie Spector’s powerful lead vocal and Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ production, the highly influential single is on many all-time best songs lists. More hits followed, including “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.” Known for their sexy onstage image, the Ronettes were one of the most popular groups of the 1960s. The Ronettes became close friends of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, with the Stones opening for them on their UK tour. The group broke up in 1967, though they would get together for reunions.

Ronnie married Phil Spector in 1968, taking his last name, and they were divorced in 1974. In her memoir, “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness,” she described the abusive relationship she endured while married to Spector. After the Ronettes, she continued her music career, singing vocals alongside Eddie Money (1949–2019) on his 1986 hit “Take Me Home Tonight” and recording with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. In 2006, she released the album “Last of the Rock Stars,” which featured her with Keith Richards, Patti Smith, and the Raconteurs.

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Notable quote

“We weren’t afraid to be hot. That was our gimmick.” “When we saw The Shirelles walk on stage with their wide party dresses, we went in the opposite direction and squeezed our bodies into the tightest skirts we could find. Then we’d get out on stage and hike them up to show our legs even more.” – from Spector’s memoir “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness.”

Memorial donations

Spector’s family requested that anyone wishing to donate in her memory choose a local women’s shelter or the American Indian College Fund.

Tributes to Ronnie Spector

Full Obituary: Rolling Stone

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