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Spector complains about life in 'snake pit'

He's only months into a 19-year murder sentence, but Phil Spector appears to have abandoned any efforts to make friends with the hardened criminals with whom he may very well have to spend the rest of his natural life.

The legendary record producer, who invented the "Wall of Sound" and used to rub shoulders with the Beatles, now fears for his safety in the "snake pit" prison where he was sent after being convicted in May of killing a B-movie actress at his hilltop Los Angeles castle. In a letter to a friend made public yesterday, Spector, 69, spoke of his distress at being held in a medical facility at central California's Corcoran State Prison. Other inmates include mass murderer Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot Bobby Kennedy.

Spector said that lawyers were working to get him moved to "a better prison, with people more like myself in it, during the appeal process – instead of all these lowlife scumbags, gangsters and Manson types... They'd kill you here for a 39-cent bag of soup!"

Spector, who will not be eligible for parole until well into his 80s, said his only pleasures were regular visits from his 29-year-old wife Rachelle, who has been driving the 400 miles from their home in Alhambra twice a week. "She's a real trouper. It's like a dream come true having her by my side again," said the letter, which was released to the media by his publicist, Hal Lifson.

Rachelle brings him packaged food so that he doesn't have to go the dining hall with other inmates. "I know it's a chance to get out of my cell... but the less I see of the inmates, the better and safer I feel."