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Brian Wilson and Gene Simmons lead tributes to Ronnie Spector

"This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever," Wilson wrote

By Tom Skinner

Ronnie Spector poses
Ronnie Spector has died at the age of 78 (Picture: Getty)

Brian Wilson and Gene Simmons are among those to have paid tribute to Ronnie Spector, who has died aged 78.

Spector, the leader of the girl group the Ronettes and the voice behind classics like ‘Be My Baby’ and ‘Walking in the Rain’, passed away on Wednesday (January 12) after a brief battle with cancer.

In a statement, her family wrote: “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.”

Since the news broke, tributes from the music world and beyond have poured in on social media.

The Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson tweeted: “I just heard the news about Ronnie Spector and I don’t know what to say. I loved her voice so much and she was a very special person and a dear friend. This just breaks my heart. Ronnie’s music and spirit will live forever. Love & Mercy, Brian.”

KISS singer/bassist Gene Simmons, meanwhile, said: “RIP Ronnie Spector. The iconic voice of the Ronettes. I was proud to have spent some time with Ronnie at A&M Studios, listening to her tell stories about the early years of rock ‘n roll. She will be missed.”

Elsewhere, Joan Jett described her “dear friend” Spector as “the sweetest person you could ever know. And her mark on rock and roll is indelible.”

Kings Of Leon drummer Nathan Followill tweeted: “RIP Ronnie Spector. Truly a voice that was instantly infectious. There will be some Ronettes vinyl spinning at the Followill house tonight.”

Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson said that she was “absolutely gutted” about Spector’s passing. “Dear beautiful, talented, fierce Ronnie,” she continued. “I will love you eternally. But then again you knew that. Love Love Love from your girl, Sx.”

Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre wrote that Spector’s music “influenced me greatly”, praising it for having “so much soul”. He also shared a ‘Be My Baby’ studio session video, adding: “What an epic song… everything about it. Wow.”

Also among those to have paid their respects are ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ actor Elijah Wood, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, former Cure drummer/keyboardist Lol Tolhurst, Margo Price and The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs.

Additionally, BBC Radio 6 Music presenters Lauren Laverne, Mary Anne Hobbs and Matt Everitt have posted messages of tribute online. “So talented, so influential and just so cool,” the latter wrote. “RIP Ronnie Spector.”

Yesterday also saw Tim Burgess Tim’s Listening Party announce that it will host an online event focusing on Spector’s final studio album, ‘English Heart’, which was released back in 2016. It’ll take place tonight (January 13) at 7pm GMT.

“No guests, no tweets from us, just the songs,” reads a message on the listening party’s official Twitter account.

You can see those posts are more below.

The Ronettes were the quintessential act of the early-Sixties girl-group era, and Spector’s silk-meets-sandpaper voice powered all of their songs. Last year, ‘Be My Baby’, the genre’s defining track, was honoured at Number 22 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“All the musicians dropped whatever they were holding, their horns and guitars, and they were looking at this new girl in town,” Spector remembered during a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone. “All the musicians were yelling, ‘Oh, my God. Her voice!’ And I’m saying, ‘Me? A little girl from Spanish Harlem?’ ”