Phil Spector best known for being one of the most influential music producers and songwriters of the modern era, but later would go on to be convicted of second degree murder has died. Spector was serving a 19 years to life sentence for the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. The California Department of Corrections reported Spector died at an outside hospital in Stockton, California from natural causes on January 16, 2021. he was 81 years old.
Born Harvey Phillip Spector on Spector was born on December 26, 1939 in New York City. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1953. For a short time in the late 1950s, Spector worked as a court reporter—the job didn’t last long before he decided to work in the music industry. He started his career in 1958 as co-founder, guitarist, and vocalist of the Teddy Bears, where he wrote the US number-one single To Know Him Is to Love Him. Two years later founded Philles Records, and at the age of 21, became the youngest person to ever own a U.S. label. Throughout the 1960s, he wrote, co-wrote, or produced records for acts such as the Ronettes, the Crystals, the Righteous Brothers, Ben E. King, and Ike & Tina Turner.
After a brief retirement from the music industry in 1966, Spector would return three years later and become the producer for The Beatles’ Let It Be album (a controversial choice). He would later produce solo albums for Beatles’ members John Lennon and George Harrison.
In 1974, Spector was in a near fatal automobile accident in Hollywood, California It is said Spector suffered serious head injuries that include 300 stitches to the face and 400 back to the head – which is said to be the reason why Spector would be known for wearing outrageous wigs. He also became more reclusive following the accident.
In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In music production, he is best known for pioneering “the “Wall of Sound” or “Spector Sound”. It was a concept that used a recording studio to create a tight orchestral feel that was intended to sound very good on radios and jukeboxes. It also involved using a large number of session musicians.
Spector would be arrested in 2003 for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. In 2007, a mistrial was declared due to a hung jury. A retrial began on October 20, 2008, but wouldn’t go to jury until March 26, 2009. On April 13, 2019 the jury came back with a guilty verdict and on May 29, 2009 Spector was given an 19 years to life sentence. He had been said to be eligible for parole in 2025.
While Spector has been reported from dying of natural causes, there have been some reports indicating he did of COVID-19 complications.
Header Photo Credit: Copyright John Mathew Smith used under CC BY-SA 2.0.