Ronnie Spector on Phil, Court Case and New Record

Keith Richards joins Ronnie Spector in the studio

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Ronnie Spector's recent court win -- where a judge ordered "Wall of Sound" producer Phil Spector to pay $2.6 million to the members of the Ronettes -- has left her in good spirits, now that time has run out on her former husband's appeal. "He had to put the money [owed] in an escrow account," she says. "And [the deadline to appeal] is practically over, and so is he, if you know what I mean."

The litigation between the two Spectors, Ronnie says, "was personal, and had nothing to do with business." She says that the Ronettes' lawsuit, which claimed they were cheated by the producer who refused to pay them royalties even as he made millions from them, was tied up in the former couple's relationship, "because he didn't treat any of his other artists this way."

She says it was an issue of control to her ex-husband (they divorced in 1974). She claims that the reason she didn't get to join the Ronettes in touring with the Beatles was that Phil was jealous of her friendship at the time with John Lennon and gave her "an ultimatum," making her choose between the tour and recording a follow-up single. "A lot of men need control over you so that they feel like men," she says. "That really sucks."

In the end, though, she won, she says. "It hasn't destroyed me, it's made me stronger. Otherwise, I would be in a mental hospital padded down, or dead . . . He spent fifteen years, and thousands of dollars [fighting the lawsuit], and I'm still kicking ass," she laughs. "I must be damn good. You can't keep a good thing down, or a good woman down, for that matter."

With that fighting spirit, Spector is finishing up her next record, her follow-up to last year's She Talks to Rainbows. In addition to working with Joey Ramone, she's since invited a whole host of musicians to join her in the studio. While she won't dish on the details ("I don't want to drop names," she says), the few hints she does drop suggest shades of Santana's all-star Supernatural. Sleater-Kinney are scheduled to meet up with her next week, Blondie members (if not Debbie Harry herself) have provided background vocals, Sheryl Crow is a "maybe" and Keith Richards is a "definite."

"Keith and I, we're hugging each other [while working], it's so adorable," the infamous bad girl of Sixties girl groups says. "We're hugging, but not kissing, because he's a married man and I'm a married woman!" she quickly clarifies. "But there's a lot of history there, a lot of love there."

Despite all the bad blood from the divorce and litigation, and though she's on her second marriage, Ronnie's keeping the Spector last name, purely for professional reasons, she says. "People wouldn't know who I was otherwise," she says. "'Who is that girl?' Besides, I like Spector, it's kind of like spectacular. Not the man, the name. Just kidding! . . . I don't hate him, I don't hold any grudges, I'm not bitter. Maybe I should be, but I'm not."

As for the recent comments made by Lennon assassin Mark David Chapman that he thinks the former Beatle would want to see him released from prison, Ronnie is quick to disagree. "Maybe, as sweet as he was, he would forgive him," she says, "but he would not want to see him free, for fear that he might try to kill other people, like Paul or George or Ringo. [Had Lennon lived], he would probably visit him in prison, bring him lunch even, but he wouldn't want him out."