Appeals Court Upholds $3M Award To Ronettes
A New York appeals court has ordered record producer Phil Spector to pay about $3 million to the Ronettes, the 1960s "girl group" trio he discovered, managed, and allegedly cheated. The trio -- whichA New York appeals court has ordered record producer Phil Spector to pay about $3 million to the Ronettes, the 1960s "girl group" trio he discovered, managed, and allegedly cheated. The trio -- which included his wife Ronnie Spector -- was paid next to nothing while Spector earned millions at their expense, the State Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled yesterday (Nov. 13). The decision upheld a lower court ruling that Spector had violated his 1963 contract with the group.
Justice Paula Omansky ruled after a trial in 1998 that the contract concerned only royalties on record sales, but Spector sold the recordings for use as background music in movies, videocassette recordings and advertising. For example, the Ronettes' biggest hit, "Be My Baby," was played with the opening credits of the movie "Dirty Dancing."
For such sales, industry custom required Spector, who kept the rights to all Ronettes recordings, to pay a 50 percent royalty to the recording artists. The judge said he paid the women nothing.
The appeals court ordered Spector, 57, to pay Ronnie Spector, 57, her sister Estelle Bennett, 55, and their cousin Nedra Talley Ross, 55, $2.97 million plus interest.
Spector's lawyer, Andrew H. Bart, argued that if the contract did not give a specific right to the recording artists, that right was retained by the producer. He was out of his office yesterday and unavailable for comment.
Phil and Ronnie Spector divorced in 1974 after being married six years.
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