Ronnie Spector honored at the 2017 She Rocks Awards – Photo by Max Crace

Legendary singer Ronnie Spector, who is best known as the founder and lead singer of the pioneering female vocal group The Ronettes in the 1960s died Wednesday following a battle with cancer, according to a statement from her family.

“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 a statement on Spector’s official website. “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 Née Veronica Bennett in Spanish Harlem on Aug. 10, 1943, her mother was of African American and Native American descent and her father was white. She showed an affinity for singing at an early age; her mother actively encouraged their professional career.

Spector was part of the iconic 1960’s female group The Ronettes. Their chart-topping, timeless hits include “Walking in the Rain,” “The Best Part of Breaking Up,” and the number one hit, “Be My Baby.” She forged an enduring “bad girl” image with her older sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley – towering teased beehive hairdos, canopies of mascara and eyeliner and tight-fitting slit skirts – that rubbed against the aching romanticism of the Ronettes’ Philles Records hits of 1963-66.

As a solo artist, she collaborated with diverse artists, and in 1986 teamed up with Eddie Money on the GRAMMY® Award-nominated duet, “Take Me Home Tonight.” In 2007, she and The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2017, Spector was honored by the Women’s International Music Network at the She Rocks Awards. Her award was presented by The NAMM Foundation and The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, in honor of her influence on multiple generations of aspiring musicians.

In lieu of flowers, Ronnie requested that donations be made to your local women’s shelter or to the American Indian College Fund. A celebration of Ronnie’s life and music will be announced in the future.