Ronnie Spector poured emotion into her music, making each note and word urgent and her melodies unforgettable.
In the 1960s, Ms. Spector led the all-female Ronettes, whose passion inspired the world of women’s rock. The Ronettes was a New York City group known for hits such as “Be My Baby,” “Is This What I Get for Loving You?” and “Walking in the Rain.”
A couple decades later, Ms. Spector was still making her voice heard in songs such as her duet with Eddie Money, “Take Me Home Tonight.”
It was written by Mr. Money, the police trainee-turned singer. But arguably, Ms. Spector’s voice is what makes the song memorable, with her accented high notes that stood like exclamation points.
When Ms. Spector sang, people paid attention.
She has left the world her legacy of timeless music. She died Wednesday from cancer at age 78.
Ms. Spector — Veronica Greenfield — was born Aug. 10, 1943, in East Harlem in New York City. She formed the Ronettes in 1959 with her older sister, Estelle Bennett, and their cousin, Nedra Talley.
The Ronettes impressed fans with their energetic hits, and they were popular enough to tour with The Beatles in 1965 in the U.S. The Ronettes continued to perform and record, but after a tour in Europe, they broke up in 1967.
Phli Spector, the producer known for his “wall of sound” (which was heard on The Beatles’ “Let It Be” album), produced most of Ronettes’ recordings, and Miss Greenfield married him in 1968. They separated in 1972, and she kept “Ronnie Spector” as her professional name. (In 2009, Mr. Spector was convicted of the 2003 murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson, and he died Jan. 16, 2021, in a California prison.)
The Ronettes were re-created by Ms. Spector in 1973 with new members Chip Fields Hurd and Diane Linton, but the band didn’t top the charts, and Ms. Spector resumed her solo career.
She married her manager, Jonathan Greenfield, in 1982, and they resided in Danbury, Conn., with their two sons.
In 1986, Ms. Spector got listeners’ attention again in her duet with Mr. Money, “Take Me Home Tonight.” At one point, the song referred to lyrics from a Ronettes hit. Mr. Money sang, “Just like Ronnie sang,” and Ms. Spector replied: “Be my little baby.”
Then came her trademark accented notes, with passion in each pitch.
Ms. Spector continued to perform well into her final decades, and her final album was “English Heart” (2016).
In 2007, the Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.