Vocalist and leader of the ’60s group The Ronettes, Ronnie Spector has died, her family announced today on her official website.

Born Veronica Yvette Bennett, Ronnie Spector grew up in Spanish Harlem of mixed African-American and Cherokee parentage. She fronted The Ronettes in the mid-1960s, a group whose music was mostly produced by her then-husband, Phil Spector. Their time together included hits “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking In The Rain.” They also involved what observers characterized his “slow sabotage” of her career and which Ronnie Spector in her memoir Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, Or, My Life as a Fabulous Ronette described as a hellishly abusive personal relationship. In a Guardian interview in December 2019, Ronnie recounted how Spector

drove her to alcoholism and threatened to get a hitman to kill her if she left. Eventually, she found a way out, and with the help of mother, left for “a walk” — with no shoes on her feet. He kept those, too… “When I was making records 50 years ago, you didn’t have a voice of any kind,” she continues. “What the man wanted was what you did. You made his records, with his lyrics and men producers, everybody was a man back then. All women have power, we just couldn’t show it… That’s why I love #MeToo and Time’s Up — because men’s time is up.”


Spector and the other Ronettes sued Phil Spector for unpaid royalties in a case that lasted more than a decade. In the end, Ronnie received “in excess of $1 million” from her ex-husband, who died in jail almost exactly a year earlier on January 16, 2021.

After a solo career through the 1970s, Spector collaborated on Eddie Money’s 1986 hit “Take Me Home Tonight,” and became a fixture for her covers of seasonal holiday songs and wide-ranging tours. The Ronettes’ 1963 recording of “Sleigh Ride” actually entered the Billboard Hot 100 two weeks ago. “The act’s return to the top 10 is record-breaking,” Billboard noted, “as it ranks in the region after a break of 58 years.”

Spector’s family released the following statement:

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. 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.


Born August 10, 1943, Ronnie Spector was 78 years old.