Saturday, May 15, 2021

‘Wall of Sound’ genius and murderer dead in prison at 81

Phil Spector was the first music producer to become a star himself as he transformed pop in the 60s.

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US music producer Phil Spector has died at the age of 81, while serving a prison sentence in California for murder.

Those who grew up listening to music in the 60s knew his name and his trademark wild production sound which involved a massive orchestra with several percussionists almost overwhelming the vocalists.

Spector was the first music producer to become a star himself as he transformed pop with his “Wall of Sound” recordings, working with stars like the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner.

In the early 1970s, Spector collaborated with The Beatles on their final album “Let It Be”, as well as producing John Lennon’s solo album “Imagine”.

However, the much-feted producer became reclusive and disturbing accounts of his behaviour became widespread. He is said to have held a gun to singer Leonard Cohen’s head during recording sessions for his album “Death of a Ladies’ Man”.

His life was ultimately blighted by drug and alcohol addiction, and he all but retired from the music scene after the 70s.

In 2009, he was convicted of the murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson.

In February 2003, actress Clarkson was found dead at his house in California with a bullet wound to her head. She had met Spector hours earlier at a nightclub.

Spector claimed the shooting happened when Clarkson “kissed the gun”, but his trial heard from four women who claimed Spector had threatened them with guns in the past when they had spurned his advances.

He was convicted of second-degree murder and given a sentence of 19 years to life.

Weeks before Lana Clarkson was shot dead, Spector gave a rare interview to British newspaper The Telegraph.

“I would say I’m probably relatively insane, to an extent,” he told the paper, adding that he had “devils inside that fight me”.

Responding to news of the producer’s death, Blondie guitarist Chris Stein tweeted: “When we went to Phil Spector’s house in the 70s he came to the door holding a bottle of diet wine in one hand and a presumably loaded 45 automatic in the other. I thought he was nuts.”

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