R.I.P. Ronnie Spector, Sixties icon and leader of The Ronettes
Her voice and style influenced generations of artists, including The Beatles. She was 78.
Ronnie Spector, singer of hits like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” has died at the age of 78. She will forever be remembered for her forceful yet beautiful voice and the style and rebelliousness she brought to pop music in the early 1960s.
Born Veronica Bennet in New York City, in 1943, she began singing in local clubs with her sister, Estelle, and cousin, Nedra Talley. They developed the groups iconic look in these early days.
“The louder they applauded, the more mascara we put on the next time,” Spector wrote in her memoir, according to the Associated Press. “We didn’t have a hit record to grab their attention, so we had to make an impression with our style. None of it was planned out; we just took the look we were born with and extended it.”
The group got its big break when they signed with producer Phil Spector’s Phillies Records in 1963. The era-defining, “wall of sound” hit “Be My Baby” soon followed. The song has often been described as one of the best pop tunes ever recorded.
The Ronettes’ signature sound influenced the coming British invasion. They toured America with The Beatles and headlined shows across the pond with a promising up-and-coming opening act called The Rolling Stones.
Though the Ronettes broke up in 1967, their legacy continues to leave an impact on artists of many different generations. Everyone from Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys to rocker Joan Jett paid tribute to Ronnie Spector on Twitter.
In a statement on her website, Ronnie’s family said, “Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humor and a smile on her face. She was filled with love and gratitude. Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her.”