Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Ronnie Spector, ’60s Icon Behind ‘Be My Baby,’ dead at 78

The original bad girl of rock'n'roll, Ronnie Spector, died Wednesday following a brief battle with cancer.

Spector, whose signature reach-for-the-ceiling beehive hairdo and sultry vocals propelled her to pop icon status in the 1960s as the lead singer of the chart-topping girl group The Ronettes, was 78.

"Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today," read a statement posted by her family on the singer's website confirming her passing. "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. 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."

Born Veronica Yvette Bennett in Spanish Harlem. Spector, who was of Black and Cherokee descent on her mother’s side and Irish on her father’s, formed The Darling Sisters while she was a teenager with her older sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley.

The group was signed to Colpix Records in 1961. It was not until two years later, however, when it moved to Phil Spector's Philles Records that its music started to take off, and the girls began to blaze their own path in a market crowded with ready-built acts targeted for teen consumption.

Under Spector, known as “the first tycoon of teen" for his adeptness at the market, the group changed its name to The Ronettes and had a string of 60s hits, such as “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.”

The Ronettes 

In 1968 the creative marriage between Phil Spector, who produced and wrote many of The Ronettes hits,
became a real one. In 1974 Spector’s abuse and refusal to allow his wife to perform led to a divorce, as detailed by Ronnie in her memoir “Be My Baby: The Autobiography of Ronnie Spector."

Photo Credit: Chris Hall
“I knew that if I didn’t leave I was going to die there,” Ronnie, whose touring for a time was confined to psychiatric wards, told Vanity Fair, adding that when the judge ordered support of $1,300 per month, Phil had a Brink’s truck deliver the first payment to her lawyer’s office—in nickels. The court put a stop to that, so Phil switched to checks stamped with “f—k off” on the back.

Following the divorce, Ronnie struggled to reestablish her career releasing four solo albums from 1980 to 2016 to middling success. She made a brief return to the limelight in 1986 thanks to a memorable solo in Eddie Money's 1986 hit "Take Me Home Tonight."

The Ronettes, who headlined for rock heavyweights The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and The Beatles during their career, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

No comments:

Post a Comment