Ronnie Spector, who founded the Ronettes in the ’60s, has passed away at age 78 after a battle with cancer.
“Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today,” her family writes on the Ronnie Spector website. “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.”
Ronnie Spector was born in Spanish Harlem, in 1943. She founded the girl group The Ronettes in 1961, while still a teenager. The group featured her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin, Nedra Talley.
“Be My Baby,” “Walking in the Rain,” and “Do I Love You?” are just a few of the pop hits recorded by the group. The group also headlined for major rock acts like The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. The Beatles hand-picked the group to join their U.S. tour in 1966.
In 1986, Ronnie recorded a memorable solo in Eddie Money’s 1986 hit, “Take Me Home Tonight.”
In the song, Eddie sings “It’s just like Ronnie sang..” before Spector sings, “be my little baby, oh oh oh.” The Ronettes as a group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Spector’s last solo album, English Heart, released in 2016 with the 429 label.
After Spector’s death, producer Steven Van Zandt honored her on Twitter. “It was an honor to produce her and encourage her to get back on stage, where she remained for the next 45 years. Her record with the E Street band helped sustain us at a very precarious time,” Van Zandt writes.
The family says a celebration of Ronnie Spector’s life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations to local women’s shelters be made in Spector’s name.