(CelebrityAccess) — Ronnie Spector, the singer and recording artist who formed the girl group the Ronettes in 1957 and married their producer, Phil Spector, has died. She was 78.
In a statement announcing her passing, Spector’s family said she died after a brief battle with cancer.
“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.”
Born in New York City as Veronica Yvette Bennett, Spector formed the Darling Sisters with her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley, later changing their name to the Ronettes.
The group proved to be a local hit and after releasing several singles, they sought out producer Phil Spector, who signed them to his label Philles Records in 1963.
The partnership propelled the Ronettes to a series successful hits “Be My Baby” (1963), “Baby, I Love You” (1963), “The Best Part of Breakin’ Up” (1964), “Do I Love You?” (1964), and “Walking in the Rain” (1964).
Early in their professional relationship, Ronnie and Spector became romantically involved as well, although Ronnie was initially unaware that Phil was married at the time.
After Spector divorced his wife in 1965, they moved in together and later married in 1968. However, their relationship didn’t last and Ronnie later accused Phil of being emotionally manipulative and sabotaging her professional career.
The couple divorced in 1974, and Ronnie ceded her future royalties, alleging that Spector had threatened her with a hired killer. She later testified that he frequently pointed a gun at her during their marriage and threatened their adopted children.
In 1988, Ronnie Spector and the other members of the Ronettes successfully sued Phil Spector, seeking millions in damages along with rescission of their contract and return of their masters. Phil Spector was ultimately forced to repay 1 million dollars in royalties, according to the New York Times.
In 1982, Spector married her manager Jonathan Greenfield.
In addition to her work with the Ronettes, Spector was also a solo artist, recording four studio albums, including English Heart, which she released in 2016.
The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.