Ronnie Spector, legendary lead singer of the Ronettes, has died

Soul singer Ronnie Spector, who led the vocal group The Ronettes, has died at the age of 78, according to a statement posted on her website. “Ronnie has left this world after a brief fight against cancer,” says the text, which recalls that the singer lived “with a sparkle in her eyes, a brave attitude, a perverse sense of humor and a smile on her face.”

Spector’s voice stood out in the 1960s, when he conquered the Disc Jockeys of radio stations with his short romantic songs performed with great courage.

Always at the center of the Ronettes, the singer delivered wild performances and an exotic image in front of the thousand and one girl groups that spread across the United States.

“Be My Baby”, “Walking in the Rain”, “Do I Love You”, “(The Best Part of) Breakin ‘Up”, “I Can Hear Music” and their immortal Christmas performances like “Sleigh Ride” and “ Frosty the Snowman ”were some of the greatest pop songs that Phil Spector erected for them.

Ronnie Spector was born in New York in 1943, with the name of Veronica Bennett. She formed The Ronettes with her sister Estelle and a cousin when they were little girls who imitated the garish harmonies of the doo wop.

In 1961 they won a famous talent show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, which was like the center of the universe of black music in New York, and they began to record until in 1963, when Ronnie was 20 years old, they were discovered by the ineffable producer Phil Spector.

Phil Spector made them his greatest creation: he composed some of his best songs for the group and produced them with an ambition rarely seen until then in pop.

His songs were youth symphonies for a new time in America, and the success was simply fabulous. On his 1963 UK tour, his opening group was none other than the Rolling Stones.

But those dreams wrapped in the imposing sound of the wall of sound were a double-sided card that hid sinister nightmares on the other side. Phil Spector fell in love with Ronnie and after four years of chained successes, he chained her at will until he turned his existence into a myriad of atrocities that the singer revealed in 1990 in her autobiography, Be My Baby.

The Ronettes had ended their career at the beginning of 1967, after opening for the Beatles’ tour of the US a year earlier, which gives a measure of their impact.

Soon after, Phil and Ronnie married and settled in a 23-room Los Angeles mansion that became their prison: the obsessive producer, driven mad by his ego, jealousy and a sense of insane possession (the lyrics for “Be my baby ”as a prophecy), locked her in the house, even surrounding the grounds with barbed wire and guard dogs.

A fan of firearms, Phil often pointed her at her and his death threats culminated in the installation of a gilded coffin in the basement in which he claimed he would display her dead if she ever left it.

That day came in 1972, when Ronnie managed to escape barefoot, since he had removed all her shoes to prevent her escape. Phil Spector did not murder her, although he reached an insulting divorce agreement for which she lost all chance of receiving benefits from his glorious recordings.

The producer, who stood out alongside John Lennon in “Imagine,” did murder another woman. It was in 2003 and the victim was the actress Lana Clarkson, for which he was tried and convicted. He died in jail a year ago now.

Ronnie rebuilt her life and tried to relaunch her career on several occasions since her breakup with Phil, but success eluded her as many times as she tried, which wasn’t that many, really. In any case, only those five years, between 1963 and 1967, allowed her to be one of the most iconic and popular singers of her time, a truly incredible time for modern music.

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