1960s Pop Icon Ronnie Spector Dies At Age 78

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Kevin Harness Contributor
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A 1960s pop icon died at the age of 78 on Wednesday after having a battle with cancer.

Ronnie Spector was the lead singer of the iconic girl-group The Ronettes, who were famously known for songs like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” Variety reported. (RELATED: Legendary Co-Creator Of Woodstock Festival Dies At Age 77)

“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer. 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,” Spector’s family said in a statement posted on her official site. “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. In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund. A celebration of Ronnie’s life and music will be announced in the future. The family respectfully asks for privacy at this time.”

Spector appeared to have a passion for music at a young age. She, along with her sister Estelle and their cousin, performed as Ronnie and the Relatives. They performed at sock hops and bar mitzvahs doing covers of bands like Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and the Shirelles, according to Variety.

They eventually renamed their band as The Ronettes and signed with Phil Spector as their producer, according to the outlet.

Their song “Be My Baby” reached No. 2 on the music charts and would eventually be included in the soundtracks of films “Mean Streets” and “Dirty Dancing,” according to The New York Times.

The Ronettes released their first album in 1964 and five out of those 12 tracks made it to music charts in the U.S., according to NBC.

They continued releasing hits like “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up” and “Walking in the Rain” in 1965. The group also toured with the Beatles in the U.S. in 1966, according to the New York Times.

The group broke up in 1967 and Ronnie married Phil Spector the year after, according to the outlet.

The two divorced in 1974. Spector wrote in her memoir, “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts and Madness,” that her former husband basically kept her as a prisoner and was abusive towards her. “I’d get drunk so I could go to rehab, just to get out of the house,” Ms. Spector said, the New York Times reported.

Her former husband was eventually convicted in 2003 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson and was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2009. He died in California State Prison on Jan. 16 in 2021, according to Variety.

Spector started performing solo and collaborated with artists like Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen. However, she did not reach major success as a solo artist until she collaborated with Eddie Money on “Take Me Home Tonight” in 1986, according to The New York Times.

She continued releasing music up until 2017 with her single “Love Power.” In 2020, it was announced that Zendaya would be playing as Spector in a biopic, according to Variety.