Ronnie Spector, Lead Singer of the Ronettes, Dies at 78

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Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, has passed away after “a brief battle with cancer.”

She was 78.

“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” the family said in a statement. “She was with family and in the arms of her husband, Jonathan. Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face.”

The Ronnettes rose to fame in the 1960s. The trio spawned several timeless hits, including “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You,” “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up” and “Walking in the Rain.”

Spector was Born Veronica Bennett in New York City’s Spanish Harlem neighborhood. She formed the Ronettes in 1961 with her older sister, Estelle and her cousin, Nedra Talley. The group is credited for giving an edge to girl groups that had previously been marketed as virginal and austere.

“When we saw the Shirelles walk onstage with their wide party dresses,” Spector wrote in her memoir. “we went in the opposite direction and squeezed our bodies into the tightest skirts we could find. Then we’d get out onstage and hike them up to show our legs even more.”

After the group was signed to Phil Spector in 1963, she quickly fell in love. The pair were married five years later.

“I was so much in love. That energy comes back to me every time: when I’m singing ‘Be My Baby,’ I’m thinking of us in the studio,” she said in a 2013 interview. Her marriage to Spector was rocked with abuse. In 2009, he was convicted for the murder of actor Lana Clarkson and died in prison last year.

The group released their debut album as the Ronettes in 1964. Five of the singles made it to the U.S. Billboard charts. They disbanded in 1967.

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

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