Ronnie Spector, 1943–2022
Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, the 1960s vocal trio that gave a passionate, bad-girl edge to pop’s girl-group sound with hits like “Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You,” died on Wednesday. She was 78.
With high-piled hair, tight outfits and seductive looks, the three young women of the Ronettes — Ronnie, born Veronica Bennett; her sister, Estelle; and their cousin Nedra Talley — transformed the virginal model that had defined female pop groups since the 1940s.
In songs like “Be My Baby,” a No. 2 hit in 1963, they sang with powerful voices of street-smart romance (“We’ll make ’em turn their heads everyplace we go”), over the swelling “wall of sound” production of Phil Spector.
“Be My Baby” was a classic of 1960s pop that seemed to reveal both innocence and grit, and it earned lasting admiration from fellow musicians. It appeared in Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets,” the hit 1987 television “Moonlighting” and the title sequence of “Dirty Dancing.” The group’s look and sound made them a touchstone for women in rock music, from Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders to Amy Winehouse.