The great late Ronnie Spector left behind a treasure trove of recorded performances.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
The world wept as the news broke Tuesday that musical trailblazer Ronnie Spector had died of cancer at 78 years old. Few artists were more iconic. With her striking eyeliner and trendsetting beehive updo, she quickly became the undeniable “It Girl” of rock 'n' roll in the 1960s.
Though Spector's story is often remembered for its dark days, such as her marriage to producer-turned-murderer Phil Spector, her infectious energy shone brighter than any stage light. Her voice was the definition of timeless, and the strength in her unique charm boomed through every decade.
The American siren was the mastermind behind the girl-group the Ronettes, which she founded in her hometown of New York alongside her older sister and their cousin. The trio won the hearts of music lovers everywhere when the Ronettes made their debut on American television with their hit “Be My Baby."
Here are five of the most iconic live performances by Ronnie Spector, beginning with the one that started it all.
1. The Ronettes perform “Be My Baby” live at The Moulin Rouge Club on Nov. 29, 1965. This was the television performance that set hearts on fire all across America, and that fire quickly spread all over the world. Spector, along with her bandmates Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley, rocked the airwaves with their synchronized moves and matching looks at the Moulin Rouge Club in Los Angeles.
2. Ronnie Spector performs a cover of Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” on English television show Top Of the Pops in November 1977. Spector gives a beautiful, from-the-heart solo performance on British TV with a captivating and personal stage presence. The singer invites viewers to sing along as if you are the only two in the room.
3. Ronnie Spector performs a Christmas medley (by request) on Letterman on Dec. 18, 1987. This performance is a perfect example of Spector’s infectious, radiant energy. From the moment she steps onto the stage, she compels viewers to join the party. Her smile, movement and eye contact come together to completely captivate audiences and convey a message of warmth, togetherness, celebration and happiness.
4. Ronnie Spector performs “I Can Hear Music” with Brian Wilson at the Ronnie Spector Tribute Concert in the year 2000. Prior to Spector joining her friend Brian Wilson on stage for this song, the Beach Boys founder sang a cover of “Be My Baby” as a tribute to Spector. The pair deliver a touching dual performance with "I Can Hear Music" — a Beach Boys song originally recorded by The Ronettes — and to see these powerhouses of American music share a moment of mutual admiration and respect is heartstring-pulling gold.
5. Ronnie Spectro performs “Do I Love You” at City Winery in NYC, Dec. 22, 2018, as part of her Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes: Best Christmas Party Ever Holiday Show. One of Spector's later performances served as evidence of her timelessness. As the world changed through her decades-long career, the magic in her power vocals remained constant — as did her kind spirit and her astounding ability to make the listener feel like family. At the beginning of this clip, Spector speaks candidly with her audience and we get a glimpse into her joyous nature.
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