Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the 60s girl band the Ronettes, died on Wednesday following a brief battle with cancer. She was 78.
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“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 family said in a statement.
Born Veronica Bennett, Ronnie grew up in Manhattan. She and her bandmates began singing and dancing in clubs before they were signed to Phillies Records. They initially sang backup for other acts until Spector had them record “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You.”
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The group’s debut album, “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica,” was released in 1964 and five of its 12 tracks made it to the US Billboard charts. However, after touring Germany in 1967, the Ronettes broke up.
“Nothing excites me more than just being onstage, having fun and flirting and winking to the guys and stuff like that. I just have so much fun. It’s just the best feeling when I go out and they say, “Ladies and gentlemen…” —my heart stops for a minute—“…Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes!” Then I just go out there and the crowd reacts the way they react and I can go on singing forever,” she told People magazine in 2017.
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In 1968, Ronnie married American record producer Phil Spector, who allegedly abused her and kept her locked in their Beverly Hills mansion. They divorced in 1974. Phil was jailed in 2009 for the murder of actor Lana Clarkson and died in 2020. Ronnie had three children with Phil – Donte Phillip Spector, Gary Phillip Spector and Louis Phillip Spector.
In 1982, Ronnie married her manager Jonathan Greenfield and the couple has two sons – Jason Charles Greenfield, and Austin Drew Greenfield.