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Los Angeles
Ronnie Spector, whose towering voice propelled indelible early 1960s hit records including “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain,” died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer. She was 78.
Spector, born Veronica Bennett, teamed with her older sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra Talley to form the Ronettes in 1957. They went on to become one of the most enduring trios of the so-called girl-group era, and long after the group, and her marriage to record producer Phil Spector, disbanded, she was hailed as a symbol of artistic and personal resiliency.
“She was with family and in the arms of her husband, Jonathan,” her family said in a statement. “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.” Spector - then still Bennett - famously promised a similar brand of attention in “Be My Baby.”
“I’ll make you happy, baby, just wait and see / For every kiss you give me I’ll give you three,” she pleaded.
The future Ronnie Spector earned her most prominent commercial success early on, when Phil Spector signed the group in 1963. They promptly fell for each other.
“I was so much in love. That energy comes back to me every time: when I’m singing ‘Be My Baby,’ I’m thinking of us in the studio,” Ronnie said in a 2013 interview. The song, which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in October 1963, earned a second life when Martin Scorsese featured it in the opening montage of his gritty 1973 crime drama “Mean Streets.”
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