Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

Ronettes star Bennett dies at 67

The Ronettes
Ronnie Bennett (l) is devastated about losing her sister Estelle (r)

Estelle Bennett, former singer with The Ronettes - who are best known for their 1963 hit Be My Baby - has died aged 67.

The singing trio helped epitomise the famed wall of sound technique that was created by producer Phil Spector.

Bennett was found dead at her home in New Jersey. It is not yet clear what the cause of death was.

Bennett's brother-in-law, Jonathan Greenfield, said his wife could not believe it. "Estelle was Ronnie's sidekick," he said.

Royalties row

"She was very much into fashion and worked with Ronnie on the whole look and style of the Ronettes," he added.

The Ronettes were inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Its website hails the group as "the premier act of the girl group era".

At the time, the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards said: "They could sing all their way right through a wall of sound.

"They didn't need anything. They touched my heart right there and then and they touch it still."

The two sisters and their cousin Nedra Talley signed with Spector's Philles Records in 1963.

Their recording of Be My Baby went to number two in the US that year.

Their other hits included Walkin' in the Rain and Baby I Love You.

Ronnie Bennett married Spector in 1968 but after their divorce six years later, the group launched a lawsuit against the producer.

They claimed he had cheated them out of royalties and ordered Spector to pay $2.6m.

However New York State's highest court threw out that ruling on appeal in 2002.

In addition to her sister, Bennett is survived by a daughter, Toyin Hunter and three grandsons.

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