Legendary Record Producer And Convicted Murderer Phil Spector Dies At 81

Maxwell Strachan
·2-min read
Phil Spector photographed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1989. 
Phil Spector photographed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1989.

Phil Spector, the iconic record producer behind many of the 20th century’s most famous pop songs, and whose signature “Wall of Sound” recording technique came to define an entire era of American music, has died at 81.

The Grammy winner, who was serving a lengthy prison sentence for the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson, reportedly died on Saturday of “natural causes,” according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.

TMZ reported that Spector had recently been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications.

Over the course of his career, Spector worked with many of the world’s most famous artists and on many of its most famous songs, including “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’” the most played song on radio and television in the 20th century.

But for all Spector’s indisputable musical talent, he also came to be known as a dark and cruel man, one whose reputation was forever tarnished when he was found guilty of murdering Clarkson inside his California home, for which he received a sentence of 19 years to life.

“I have devils inside that fight me. And I’m my own worst enemy,” he once said to British journalist Mick Brown.

Harvey Philip Spector was born on Dec. 26, 1939, in the Bronx, New York. When Spector was just a boy, his father, deep in debt, died by suicide. On the tombstone, his family engraved the words “To Know Him Was To Love Him.”

Soon after his father’s death, Spector moved with his mother to Los Angeles, where he attended Fairfax High School and started to learn the piano and guitar. He formed a trio with Marshall Lieb and Annette Kleinbard, the latter of whom he would briefly marry. They called themselves the Teddy Bears, and released a song called “To Know Him Is to Love Him.” To the 17-year-old Spector’s surprise, it was a hit, and a No. 1 hit at that.

But the group disbanded and for a time, Spector had other dreams outside of the music...

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