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Ronnie Spector, Ronettes leader and '60s icon, dies at 78

By Simon Druker
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Ronnie Spector, Ronettes leader and '60s icon, dies at 78
Veronica "Ronnie" Spector, Estelle Bennett, Nedra Talley of the Ronettes and Keith Richards stand at the podium during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in 2007. Spector died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer, according to her family. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Ronnie Spector, the vocalist who led the 1960s pop group the Ronettes and produced the classic hits "Walking in the Rain" and "Be My Baby," died Wednesday, her family announced. She was 78.

Spector's family posted a statement on her official website.

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"Our beloved earth angel, Ronnie, peacefully left this world today after a brief battle with cancer. She was with family and in the arms of her husband, Jonathan," reads the statement.

"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. Her joyful sound, playful nature and magical presence will live on in all who knew, heard or saw her."

Born Veronica Yvette Bennett in New York City on Aug. 10, 1943, Spector fronted the three-woman pop group, which she formed in 1957 with her older sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley.

The group produced the above-mentioned hits, before Spector branched out for a solo career in 1964. Last year, the group's hit, "Be My Baby," was ranked 22nd on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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Spector produced five solo albums, the last of which was released in 2016.

She married record producer Phil Spector in 1968, but the two separated in 1972 and were officially divorced in 1974. She later sued her ex-husband over millions in unpaid royalties.

Spector married her manager Jonathan Greenfield in 1982, changing her legal name to Veronica Greenfield.

In 2007, Spector was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Ronettes.

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