Ronnie Spector, the cat-eyed rock ‘n’ roll singer behind the 1960s group the Ronettes, whose era-defining hits included the classic “Be My Baby,” died Wednesday. She was 78 years old.
“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” read a family statement.
Born Veronica Greenfield in New York’s Spanish Harlem on August 10, 1943, Spector was the daughter of an African American-Cherokee mother and Irish American father.
With their vampy, heavily lidded eyes, sky-high beehive hairstyles and skirts cut above the knee, the Ronettes delivered a string of hits during their early 1960s heyday, including “Baby, I Love You” and “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up,” along with the beloved “Be My Baby” that in 1999 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Inducting the trio into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones recalled opening for the Ronettes in the 1960s.
The Ronettes broke up in 1967 following a European concert tour.
The pair divorced in 1974, and in her autobiography the singer chronicled years of horrifically abusive behavior perpetrated by her ex.
In 2006 she dropped “Last of the Rock Stars,” an album that included features from Richards and Patti Smith.
“Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her.”