Pop Producer and Convicted Murder Phil Spector Dies, Aged 81

The producer behind the ‘wall of sound’ and convicted murderer Phil Spector has died at 81. Spector was serving 19 years to life for the fatal shooting of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003.

Spector is credited for transforming pop music in the 1960s with the ‘wall of sound’ formula. The process was created by optimising the amount of studio space to achieve an orchestral aesthetic resulting in an echo chamber. A large element of this was down to the ensemble of session musicians, The Wrecking Crew, who provided the soundtrack to Spector’s musical vision.   

During the 1960s he worked with everyone from the Righteous Brothers to the Crystals to the Ronettes, later marrying Ronettes’ lead singer Ronnie Bennett in 1968. At the height of his fame, he produced 20 top-40 hits including the Ronettes’ hits “Be My Baby” and “Baby I Love You”.

Following from his success with girl groups, Spector turned to the Beatles for their final album Let It Be. The recordings he did with them inspired George Harrison and John Lennon, leading Spector to produce their solo albums: All Things Must Pass and Imagine. By the 1970s, Spector became a reclusive figure and he split with Ronnie in 1974.

In her 1990 autobiography, Ronnie Spector recalls the level of abuse she suffered under her ex-husband, she said at the time:

“I can only say that when I left in the early ‘70s, I knew that if I didn’t leave at that time, I was going to die there.”

Spector’s downturn was complete in 2003 when Lana Clarkson was found dead. Spector shot her after they met in a nightclub. He went on trial and was convicted for murdering her; he was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.

“Unfortunately, Phil was not able to live and function outside the recording studio. Darkness set in; many lives were damaged.”

Ronnie Spector on Phil Spector’s life

Words by Lewis Oxley.


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