Phil Spector, whose “Wall of Sound” was a groundbreaking recording technique that powered some of the biggest acts in music, has died at age 81 from Covid-19 complications.
The revolutionary music producer convicted of murdering actor Lana Clarkson, has died aged 81.
Spector, who transformed pop with his “wall of sound” recordings, worked with the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner.
In 2009, he was convicted of the 2003 murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson.
His death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“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,” it said.
The music producer was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35pm on 16 January at an outside hospital, according to a statement issued to Rolling Stone.
An exact cause of death is yet to be announced but will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
Spector was born Dec. 26, 1939 in the Bronx, and began his career as a member of the teenage vocal group the Teddy Bears, who landed a No. 1 Billboard hit with 1958’s “To Know Him Is to Love Him.”
He became a prolific producer and songwriter in the ’60s, creating densely arranged tracks with groups like the Ronettes, the Crystals, the Righteous Brothers (including the 1964 hit “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”) and Ike & Tina Turner. That “Wall of Sound” approach famously influenced the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.
After a brief hiatus in the late decade, Spector experienced a resurgence after working with members of the Beatles. He helmed John Lennon’s solo single “Instant Karma!” and was recruited to turn the band’s Let It Be recordings into a final album; he made major alterations to the music, including some controversial choral and orchestral overdubs. Spector also co-produced Lennnon’s 1970 LP, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band; his 1971 LP, Imagine; George Harrison’s 1970 record, All Things Must Pass; and his 1971 live album, The Concert for Bangladesh.
In 1974, the producer was involved in a near-fatal car crash and suffered injuries that prompted extensive surgery. Later in the decade, he produced two notable albums: Leonard Cohen’s 1977 LP, Death of a Ladies’ Man, and the Ramones’ 1980 record, End of the Century. But his behavior had reportedly become erratic in the ’70s.
“A genius irredeemably conflicted, he was the ultimate example of the Art always being better than the Artist, having made some of the greatest records in history based on the salvation of love while remaining incapable of giving or receiving love his whole life,” Stevie Van Zandt wrote on Twitter.
“He was drinking very heavily,” journalist Mick Brown told NPR. “He wasn’t a man in control of himself. He’d even wear guns on the phones with record executives — in order to give himself a bit of an edge, it seemed, over the telephone.”
Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, but he’d been largely inactive throughout that decade. He did co-produce Yoko Ono’s 1981 LP, Season of Glass, but he also pulled out of a Celine Dion project due to frustrations with her management. He is credited as co-producer on indie-rock band Starsailor’s 2003 LP, Silence Is Easy.
On April 13, 2009, the producer was convicted of second-degree murder, over six years after Clarkson had been shot dead.
During sessions for John Lennon’s (also contractually obligated) oldies covers album, Rock And Roll, Spector and Lennon out-drink each other, spar verbally, and scream at each other over the din of Phil’s wacked-out production. Samples from this infamous session can be heard on Lennon’s Anthology box set and on bootlegs. During these sessions, Spector is also seen to wave a handgun around, threatening longtime Beatles roadie and associate Mal Evans with it and eventually shooting it into the air. A frazzled Spector soon disappears with the session tapes, which took Lennon months to retrieve. (1973)