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Music Producer, Convicted Murderer Phil Spector Passes Away

January 17, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Phil Spector, one of the most influential music producers of all time as well as a convicted murderer, has passed away from Covid-19 complications. TMZ reports that Spector passed away in in a hospital after being transported there from the prison where he was serving his sentence for the murder of Lana Clarkson. Spector had reportedly been diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks ago and had gone to the hospital at that time, but recovered enough that he was transported back to prison. He was 81.

Spector is known to most people for two things: the aforementioned murder as well as creating the famous “Wall of Sound” technique in which layering techniques are used to create an orchestral technique in order to make for a fuller sound on recordings. Spector produced music for the Beatles, the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Ike & Tina Turner, solo albums for John Lennon and George Harrison, Leonard Cohen, the Ramones, and many more. He co-wrote and produced The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “Unchained Melody,” Ike & Tina’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and many others.

His musical genius took a backseat however to his personal issues as well as his crimes, both alleged and convicted. Spector was accused of psychological abuse and imprisonment by his second wife, Ronettes lead singer Ronnie Spector, in her 1990 memoir Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts And Madness. She left him in 1972, divorced him in 1974, and forfeited all future record earnings as well as custody of their children; she would later allege that this was because Spector threatened to have a hit put out on her. Two of his sons that he and Ronnie adopted, Gary and Donté, have both alleged that he kept them captive and more.

Phil Spector was also nearly killed in 1974 when he was involved in a car accident in Hollywood and was thrown through the windshield. He suffered serious injuries to his head and required over 700 stiches in total, 400 to the back of his head and 300 to his face. He became reclusive and was known for erratic behavior such as brandishing guns. He said in a 2005 court deposition that he had been treated for bipolar disorder for eight years.

It is the death of Lana Clarkson, however, which will be Spector’s final legacy. Clarkson died by way of a gunshot wound in 2003 at Spector’s home in Alhambra, California. Spector’s driver called the police and quoted the producer as saying, “I think I’ve killed someone.” Police found that Clarkson was shot in the mouth. Spector claimed it was an “accidental suicide” when Clarkson was trying to “kiss the gun.” He was put on trial in 2007 which resulted in a hung jury. A retrial in 2009 convicted him of second-degree murder and sentenced him to 19 years to life. Spector would have been eligible for parole in 2024.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family and friends of Spector.

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Phil Spector, Jeremy Thomas