Ronnie Spector, known for singing iconic 1960s hits like “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” died Wednesday of cancer, her family said in a statement. She was 78.
Spector, who led the girl group the Ronettes, was known for rocking the cat eye makeup and beehive hairdo that became synonymous with the era. A New York City native who grew up in East Harlem, Spector quickly became an international sensation.
The group’s looks and powerful vocals — as well as songwriting and producing help from Phil Spector — turned it into one of the premier acts of the girl-group era. The Ronettes toured England with the Rolling Stones and befriended the Beatles.
Spector, who was born Veronica Bennett, began performing around New York City with her older sister, Estelle Bennett, and their cousin Nedra Talley. They became stars after they won an amateurs competition at the famed Apollo Theater.
In 1963 the women were signed to the record label of Phil Spector, the “wall of sound” music producer who helped create hits for some of the biggest bands of the time, including the Beatles and the Beach Boys.
The group released its debut album as the Ronettes in 1964; five of the 12 tracks made it to the U.S. Billboard charts.
When the Ronettes, who broke up in 1967, were inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, they were credited with having produced “some of the greatest music of the century.”
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SOURCE: NBC News, Doha Madani; The Associated Press