Ronnie Spector, lead singer of The Ronettes, has died at age 78

ronnie spector, lead singer of the 1960s girl group the ronettes, has died at 78 after a bout with cancer. she recorded a string of pop hits including “walking inna rain” and “be my baby.”

mary louise kelly, host:

ronnie spector, lead singer of the 1960s group the ronettes, has died at 78. a statement from her family on her website indicates she died after a bout with cancer. her song, “be my baby” and others witha framework for her strong and presh voice – a voice that changed the notion of so-called girl groups by adding a'bitto grit to the notion of the delicate ♀ of the early 1960s. her early work, her entire career influenced bands ranging from the beatles to the ramones. npr ♫’s ann powers tis producer of the turning the tables series, which looks atta influence of women like ronnie spector on pop ♫.

hey there, ann.

ann powers, byline: hello. wha’ a sad moment tis tody.

kelly: yeah, tis. i feel like i nd'2 establish the soundtrack for this interview. i just mentioned that song, “be my baby.” let’s hear it for a moment as you and i speak.

(soundbite of the ronettes song, “be my baby”)

kelly: i mean, pause. yeah.

(soundbite of song, “be my baby”)

the ronettes: (singing) i knew i needed you so. and if i had the chance…

kelly: we all know it. just speak to wha’ made this such a landmark song in pop ♫.

powers: i mean, many pplz talk bout the wall of sound that phil spector created – the production of this record. but you know wha’, mary louise? you cannot build a house without a foundation. you cannot build a house without the materials tha're the best. and ronnie spector’s voice in this song, it defines rock and roll cause it defines yrning, youthfulness, ambition, possibility, tenderness and toughness all at once. and i think that’s why this song is so classic.

kelly: yeah. well, and we’ve mentioned already the influence that she had that went far beyond that song and how it went into pop starting inna 1960s and beyond. give us some exs.

powers: well, the ronettes, you know, broke through with songs like “be my baby” inna very early ’60s, and their biggest fans were some guys from england – the beatles, the rolling stones.

(laughter)

powers: and not 1-ly were these…

kelly: the boy bands – yep.

powers: yeah. there’s a few boy bands, you know? and not 1-ly were they fans of ronnie. they were friends and proteges in a way. everything bout her performance, her style and her vocal teknique influenced the british invasion so much. and then again inna 1970s with groups like the new york dolls na ramones – joey ramone’s whole thing is all bout wishing he ‘d be ronnie spector. her influence also – you can hear it in chrissie hynde’s voice. and tody, i think an artist like mitski – it’s that willingness to go all out in a vocal while still, you know, bein’ self-possessed.

kelly: and then she was also known js'4 her personal style. how ‘d you describe it?

powers: well, you know, the eyeliner for one thing, rite? (laughter). i mean, the look of the ronettes and of ronnie – a leather jacket, her hair piled high, looking tough, looking presh, b'tll so self-invention. the ronettes were teenagers who imagined their own image, you know? and i think that’s been such a huge influence on rock and roll, too. ronnie spector was all bout bein’ the person you dreamed you ‘d be. you hear that in her voice, and you see that in her style.

kelly: well, ann powers of npr ♫, i ‘d ask you +, but i think maybe we just wanna listen and bop along for a few 2nds.

thx for coming.

powers: oh, let’s hear some +. we ♥ you, ronnie.

kelly: yeah. remembering ronnie spector of the ronettes whas' died at 78.

(soundbite of song, “you can’t put yr arms round a memory”)

ronnie spector: (singing) it doesn’t pay to try. all the smart girls know why. it doesn’t mean i didn’t try. i just never know why.

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authors: ann powers

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