The iconic singer Veronica Bennett, better known as Ronnie Spector, has died at the age of 78 following a battle with cancer. She was born in Spanish Harlem in 1943 and began singing at an early age with her sister Estelle and cousin Nedra Tally. Together, they were The Darling Sisters and went on to sign a record deal with Phil Spector in 1963, at which point they became The Ronettes.
In just one year, between 1964 and 1965, The Ronettes released five top 40 hits in the US, including the immortal ‘Be My Baby’. Ronnie’s performance on the hit single inspired everyone from Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney to Bruce Springsteen and Amy Winehouse. After touring alongside The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes disbanded in 1967. In their wake, they left an enormous legacy, as can be seen from the sheer amount of tributes pouring in for Ronnie following the news of her death.
Rockstar and riot grrrl pioneer Joan Jett took to Twitter to pay tribute to Ronnie’s life and legacy, writing: “Our dear friend Ronnie Spector, has passed. She was the sweetest person you could ever know. And her mark on rock and roll is indelible.”
The Beach Boys Brian Wilson, who was apparently obsessed with ‘Be My Baby’, also paid tribute to the late great Ronnie Spector in a short message, which reads: “I just heard the news about Ronnie Spector and I don’t know what to say. I loved her voice so much and she was a very special person and a dear friend. This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever. Love & Mercy, Brian.” Wilson’s bandmate, Al Jardine, also offered his condolences.
Ronnie’s universal appeal is clear from Gene Simmon’s (KISS) kind words about the singer. “RIP Ronnie Spector. The iconic voice of the Ronettes. I was proud to have spent some time with Ronnie at A&M Studios, listening to her tell stories about the early years of rock ‘n roll. She will be missed,” Simmons wrote on Twitter.
While Billie Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins chose to pay tribute with a cover of ‘Baby, I Love You’, Stevie Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, wrote: “RIP Ronnie Spector. It was an honour 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 (thanks to Steve Popovich). Condolences to her husband and family.”
See the tributes, below.