'Be My Baby' Singer Ronnie Spector Dies At 78

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Ronnie Spector, who fronted The Ronettes and had hits like “Be My Baby, died Wednesday following a battle with cancer. She was 78.

“Ronnie lived her life with a twinkle in her eye, a spunky attitude, a wicked sense of humour and a smile on her face,” read a statement from her family. "She was filled with love and gratitude.”

Tributes are flooding social media. "I loved her voice so much and she was a very special person and a dear friend," tweeted Brian Wilson. "This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever." Joan Jett shared: "She was the sweetest person you could ever know. And her mark on rock and roll is indelible."

Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Kim tweeted: "Your voice was the sound of my youth & my dreams. You saved me from another life. Onto the light."

"Ronnie Spector was the true embodiment of rock and roll, a survivor, a pioneer and the original bad girl." - Margo Price

Born Veronica Bennett in New York City, she started performing with her sister Estelle and their cousin Nedra in clubs. “We didn’t have a hit record to grab their attention, so we had to make an impression with our style,” Ronnie recalled in her 1990 memoir, Be My Baby. "None of it was planned out; we just took the look we were born with and extended it.”

The group was signed to a record deal by music producer Phil Spector in 1963 and sang backup for other acts until they recorded “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You.” Their debut album was released in 1964.

The Ronnettes split up three years later.

Ronnie, who embarked on a solo career, married Spector in 1968. "Meeting him and falling in love was like a fairytale,” she wrote on Facebook following Phil’s death last year. "The magical music we were able to make together, was inspired by our love. I loved him madly, and gave my heart and soul to him.

“As I said many times while he was alive, he was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband. Unfortunately Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged.”

Ronnie revealed in her memoir that Spector kept her imprisoned in their home and subjected her to psychological abuse. They were divorced in 1974.

The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Ronnie is survived her husband Jonathan Greenfield and two sons, Jason and Austin.

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