LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Aretha Franklin plans to sue her former ghost writer David Ritz over his new biography, Respect, which claims Franklin was involved in a 1950s gospel circuit known as the "sex circus."
Ritz, who penned the singer's 1999 memoir From These Roots, claims the new material was cut from Franklin's book and writes that as a teen, she participated in a group where "men-and-men and women-and-women hookups" were the norm.
Etta James is quoted as supporting the claims and referring to both herself and Franklin as being "sexually overactive" at the time.
"I can understand Aretha not wanting to talk about that . . . Who wants to admit that you're praising the Lord at the 8 p.m. service and servicing some drop-dead gorgeous hunk of a singer an hour later? Aretha and I started out before we were teenagers . . . we wanted to experience it all. I wouldn't use the expression sexually active, I'd say sexually overactive."
The 72-year-old singer is said to be "enormously upset" by the book and told the Detroit News Monday she plants to take legal action.
"There's a very trashy, trashy book on the street . . . It's lies, lies, lies and then more lies," she said, adding, "I'm talking to a criminal attorney. If this isn't defamation, I don't know what would be."
Ritz, however, sees his book as an "homage" to the Queen of Soul.
"I spent 25 years researching Respect. I see my book as an homage to Aretha's artistic genius and an empathetic portrait of a woman who has survived and thrived in the complex culture of show business," he told the New York Post.
Ritz has also written books with Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, B.B. King, Janet Jackson and Natalie Cole.