Photo via Spector’s The Anthology ’59-’62
Famed producer – and convicted murderer – Phil Spector has died at the age of 81.
News outlets are reporting COVID-19 as his cause of death; Spector apparently caught the virus while serving a 19-to-life sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.
Before his career was tarnished, Spector used his comprehensive “Wall of Sound” technique to produce a slew of iconic pop hits – from The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” to The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me.”
Later, Spector contributed to The Beatles’ final studio output Let It Be, which led to a number of collaborations on the Beatles’ solo records, such as George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Lennon’s Imagine.
In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but even before his imprisonment his instability and violent nature were prevalent.
In 1971 he allegedly fired a gun inches from John Lennon’s face, and he notoriously tormented his wife Ronnie Spector (lead singer of The Ronettes) for years, including threatening “to display her dead body in a glass-lidded gold coffin if she ever left him,” forbidding her to wear shoes in the house out of fear she’d run away, and putting “barbed wire and guard dogs around his mansion to make sure that she couldn’t.”
Spector was arrested in 2003 and, after a highly publicized trial, he was convicted of second-degree murder in 2009. Spector claimed Clarkson’s death was “an accidental suicide.”
And while some sources are reporting Spector died of natural causes, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 a number of weeks ago and allegedly suffered a relapse right before his death.