Ronnie Spector, lead singer of iconic US girl group the Ronettes, has died.

The vocalist passed away yesterday (12 January). She was 78. Spector’s family announced the news in a statement posted to her official website. “Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer,” the statement reads. “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,” it continues. “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.” Read the full statement here.

The singer was born Veronica Bennett on 10 August 1943 in New York. Spector founded girl group the Ronettes, which also featured her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley, while still in her teens. The group were catapulted to pop stardom and fame in the 60s and had a plethora of hits including Be My Baby, Baby, I Love You and Walking in the Rain.

The Ronettes toured with a number of influential bands including the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. In 1966, the group teamed up with the Beatles for a US tour. The Ronettes split up the following year, with Spector later embarking on a solo career. 

Her husband Phil Spector, whom she was married to from 1968 to 1972, produced and co-wrote many of the Ronettes’ songs. In the studio, the producer was known for his “wall of sound” recording technique. However, in her 1990 memoir Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, Ronnie Spector revealed she was subjected to years of psychological abuse and death threats by her husband. She eventually escaped in 1972.

Phil Spector died in January 2021 while serving a prison sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. Following news of his death, Ronnie Spector described him as “a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband”.

Artists such as Joan Jett have shared their tributes to the late singer online. Read them below.