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‘Be My Baby’ singer Ronnie Spector dies at 78

Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of the Ronettes, a 60s pop group, gave the world great hits like ‘Be My Baby’ and ‘Baby I love You”

Ronnie Spector appears in New York.
Ronnie Spector appears in the press room after performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 15, 2010, in New York.
Associated Press

Ronnie Spector, who sang 1960s hits like “Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain” as the lead in a girl group called The Ronettes, has died, per The Associated Press. She was 78.

She died after a brief battle with cancer, her family said. “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,” the family said, per the report.

The girl band with three young women — Ronnie, Estelle, her sister and Nedra Talley, their cousin — redefined what it meant to be in a female pop group.

They grew up in Spanish Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City, and started performing at a young age, finding their spotlight at dance events or Jewish bar mitzvah parties, per the National Post.

The band broke up in 1967 after touring Germany. A year later, the lead singer married Phil Spector, whom she later accused of keeping her locked up in their Beverly Hills mansion.

The couple divorced in 1974. Per the report, her former husband was sent to prison in 2009 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

Per The New York Times, in a 1990 memoir, “Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, or, My Life as a Fabulous Ronette,” she wrote: “We weren’t afraid to be hot. That was our gimmick.”

The song “Be My Baby” became a No. 2 hit in 1963, known for its innocence and courage, garnering the admiration of fellow musicians. Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets,” hit ’90s television show “Moonlighting” and the title sequence of “Dirty Dancing” featured the song.

After the girl group broke up, Spector continued to tour and make music. “Last of the Rock Stars, her first album in 20 years, released in 2006, followed by a Christmas EP called “Ronnie Spector’s Best Christmas Ever.”

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