Phil Spector 1939 – 2021
Producer, songwriter and convicted murderer Phil Spector died on Saturday. The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation confirmed his death and cited natural causes although a press release also indicated that the “official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.” TMZ reported that Spector died from complications due to COVID-19. He was 81 years old.
Spector was born on December 26, 1939 in New York City. He would go on to become a successful record producer and songwriter, credited with developing the “Wall Of Sound” recording technique that can be heard on a number of “girl group” records of the 1960s including The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Paris Sisters and more. Writer Tom Wolfe called Spector the “First Tycoon of Teen.”
Spector also co-wrote a number of hit songs including “Spanish Harlem,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Be My Baby,” “Chapel Of Love,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Baby I Love You,” “Walking In The Rain,” “River Deep, Mountain High” and more. He clocked over 25 Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1965.
In the late ‘60 and into the ‘70s and ‘80s, Spector was involved in making records for some of the biggest names in rock including The Beatles, Ike And Tina Turner, the Ramones and more. Spector produced The Beatles’ 1970 album “Let It Be” and would go on to work on solo material of three out of the four members including John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. He produced the latter’s “The Concert For Bangladesh” which saw performances by Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar and more.
Spector won a Grammy Award for “The Concert For Bangladesh” album, an Academy Award for the “Let It Be” soundtrack as well as a BMI Country Song of the Year award for composing “To Know Him Is To Love Him” recorded by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt in 1989. Spector was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame that same year.
Phil Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. He was serving 19 years to life when he died.