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The inimitable girl-group icon—back with the excellent new album English Heart—shares incredible tales of her days with the Ronettes, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

“Be My Baby,” 1963

I was friends with the Beatles, real friends—we’d sit on the floor at home and have finger sandwiches and play 45s. When I came to the U.K. to join [the band’s] Apple Records, I didn’t recognize George Harrison. It was during the Maharishi days, and George had the longest hair. He immediately started playing me this song, and I said, “George, I can’t sing this kind of song!” He says, “I know, Ronnie. I wrote it, and I don’t like it!” [The track was produced by Phil Spector.] It had all these strings and the arrangement was awful, [but] we were friends, so it wasn’t like we could just shake hands and walk away. Later on, George recorded it, and he had my voice on it and his voice on it, answering each other. And after that came out, it became a fan favorite.

Read more stories from Spector’s career in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here – and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.