Phil Spector 'beaten up' in prison

Legendary music producer reportedly loses teeth and suffers bruising in fight with fellow inmate

Jailed producer Phil Spector is reportedly nursing his wounds after being beaten up by a fellow inmate. Although the music legend's wife maintains "Phil was not assaulted", other sources say Spector was given a thrashing after cracking a joke at a "big guy's" expense.

"Phil has quite a mouth on him," long-time friend Steven Escobar told the New York Daily News. "Not everyone understands his humour. He said the wrong thing to the wrong inmate in the yard." Although Spector initially claimed "he fell down a flight of stairs", Escobar said the producer finally admitted what had happened. The result of his wisecrack? A bruised nose, a black eye and the loss of two dental caps.

A representative for Rachelle Spector, the producer's 29-year-old wife, reportedly confirmed the incident. "There are still safety concerns," the spokesperson said. "We don't want the people who put him in this position to retaliate." But Rachelle later insisted that her husband was "absolutely not" attacked.

"My husband's safety is the prison's number one priority," she said. "They have him segregated in a sensitive-needs ward. All his health concerns are being taken care of." A spokesperon for California's Corcoran prison said officials had no reports of any "altercations" involving Spector.

Escobar suggests Spector's wife is simply protecting him. After the producer criticised the jail in a letter to Escobar last year, describing his neighbours as "lowlife scumbag gangsters", Spector reportedly suffered retaliation.

There are indeed records of a dental visit in December, but Rachelle Spector said it was because "he had an abscess and issues with crowns and implants". "Anyone who meets Phil loves him," she insisted. "He's so freakin' funny. He's an idol to the other inmates. They look out for him. They also know he was wrongfully convicted."

Spector was sentenced last year for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. Earlier this month, lawyers launched his appeal, citing judicial error and prosecution misconduct. He is "fragile," Rachelle said, but "very upbeat". She seems much the same. The former Playboy model will release her first album on 8 June, with production by, er, guess who. "I do lead vocals," she said. "My husband is so proud of me, and I'm so proud of him for withstanding what he's withstanding."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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