R.I.P. to a singing legend. Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes has died at the age of 78 after battling cancer. She leaves behind a husband, Jonathan, with whom she shares two sons, and three adopted children with her first husband, iconic music producer and later convicted killer, Phil Spector.
“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,” her family said in a statement released on January 12, 2022.
“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,” they continued.
The family asked that, “In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund,” and noted, “A celebration of Ronnie’s life and music will be announced in the future.”
Ronnie, the booming voice behind such 1960s hits as “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain,” married Phil on April 14, 1968. A year later, they adopted a son Donté Phillip Spector. Phil surprised Ronnie by giving her 5-year-old adopted twin boys as a Christmas present in 1971.
“We were in the car and all of a sudden we pull up to the mansion and there’s a fountain and there are these twins running around — these blond-haired, blue-eyed twins,” she told People in 2018. “I’m saying, ‘What’s this?’ He said, ‘Merry Christmas!’”
“He never said, ‘Ronnie, what do you think we should do? Should we adopt twins?’ Nothing! Everything was a surprise, and no woman wants live children as a surprise,” she continued. The boys, named Gary Phillip and Louis Phillip Spector, were born on May 12, 1966, in Van Nuys, California.
The singer would go on to have a dramatic breakup from Spector, splitting in 1972 and divorcing in 1974. She claimed that Spector allegedly abused her and wouldn’t let her leave their Beverly Hills mansion. He also retained custody of their three adopted sons. Ronnie later said, “I have three adopted children with Phil, and for years I was fighting in court with him over being able to see my kids. I was always going back and forth to California, going to court, and I was never able to get a project going.”
Ronnie went on to find love with her manager, Jonathan Greenfield, and the pair wed in 1982. They had a family of their own that included two sons, Austin Drew and Jason Charles Greenfield, whom they raised in Danbury, Connecticut.
While Ronnie’s children stayed out of the spotlight, she loved the limelight. “Nothing excites me more than just being onstage, having fun and flirting and winking to the guys and stuff like that. I just have so much fun. It’s just the best feeling when I go out and they say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen — my heart stops for a minute — Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes!’ Then I just go out there and the crowd reacts the way they react, and I can go on singing forever,” she told People in 2017.