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17 January 2021

Phil Spector, Music Producer And Murderer, Dies Aged 81

REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
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the American music producer Phil Spector has died at the age of 81. He was serving a prison sentence for murder.

Spector created a host of 60s hits with his “wall of sound”, a formula he crafted alongside the engineer Larry Levine and the Wrecking Crew session musicians. The wall of sound was made by backing singers with a large ensemble of musicians and having multiple instruments playing the same part to create a full and dense sound that played brilliantly on the radios and jukeboxes popular at the time.

Phil Spector formed the record label, Philles Records, alongside the record label executive Lester Sill, before buying out Sill’s stock in the company and becoming the youngest label chief in America, at the age of 21. The label created hits for artists such as Ike & Tine Turner and Darlene Love.

Spector was famous for his work on songs by an array of 60s pop acts, including The Crystals’ Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me; The Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and, most famously, with his work with The Ronettes, such as Baby, I Love You and Be My Baby.

Spector would go on to marry Ronnie Spector, the lead singer of The Ronettes, in 1968. According to Ronnie Spector, she was subjected to years of psychological torment and was regularly imprisoned in their home, and not allowed to tour or see people. She eventually managed to escape the marriage in 1972, and was officially divorced in 1974, forced to give up the rights to any future recording earnings and custody of her children.

Phil Spector was also the controversial producer on The Beatles’ Let It Be, with the band disagreeing on his mixing decisions. George Harrison and John Lennon would both go on to work with Spector on their own solo records, but Paul McCartney was very unhappy with Spector’s work and would later work on Let It Be…Naked which removed Spector’s contributions.

In 2003, Spector murdered the Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson, shooting and killing her in his home in Alhambra, California. He was convicted of second degree murder in 2009 and was serving his prison sentence at the time of his death.

His death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In a statement they said, “California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital. His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office”.

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