Sunday, January 17, 2021

Phil Spector dead at 81: Jailed Wall of Sound producer dies of COVID after relapsing four weeks after diagnosis


Music producer Phil Spector has died from COVID-19 related complications at the age of 81.
Spector was diagnosed with COVID four weeks ago and was transferred from his prison cell at California Health Care Facility, where he was serving a 19 years-to-life sentence for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, to a hospital.
He recovered enough to return to jail but he relapsed and struggled with breathing and returned to a hospital where he died Saturday, as per TMZ.
The California Department of Corrections confirmed his passing and he was pronounced dead of natural causes at 6.35pm Saturday.
A medical examiner will determine his exact cause of death.
The famed musician, born in the Bronx of New York City, developed the Wall of Sound a technique of that has a roaring effect, dubbed the 'Wagnerian approach to rock 'n' roll,' that was popular in the '60s.
He was eight years old when his father killed himself and his mother moved their family to Los Angeles. He attended Fairfax High in 1954, where alumni included songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who would play an important role in his early career, according to Variety.
He wrote, co-wrote and produced acts for the likes of the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Ike & Tina Turner.
He started his career by producing his first hit 'To Know Him is To Love Him' for his vocal trio the Teddy Bears when he was still in high school.
From there his career skyrocketed and he produced hits including 'Be My Baby' by the Ronnettes and 'He’s a Rebel' by The Crystals.
In 1969 he produced the Beatles' album Let It Be and several solo records for John Lennon and George Harrison.
By the 70s he had produced 18 US Top 10 singles for various artists including Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones.
Some of his top songs include 'The Long and Winding Road' by the Beatles in 1970 and 'My Sweet Lord' by George Harrison in 1970.
Spector’s life took a darkening path in the late 70s onward.
As a freelancer he produced Leonard Cohen’s 1977 album 'Death of a Ladies' man' and during sessions he reportedly drew out a gun and pointed it at Cohen’s chest and said 'I love you Leonard' to which he replied, 'I hope so, Phil.'
His last major production was The Ramones’ 1980 album 'End of the Century.'
Spector did little work after the early 80s and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.
In 2009, after three decades in semi-retirement, he was convicted of Clarkson's murder.
In February 2003 actress Lana Clarkson was killed at Spector’s mansion in Alhambra, California.
The 40-year-old actress who starred in the cult film 'Barbarian Queen' was found dead, slumped in a chair suffering a single gunshot wound to the mouth with her broken teeth scattered across the carpet.
Spector told Esquire Magazine in July 2003 that her death was an 'accidental suicide' and she 'kissed the gun.'
In an emergency call from Spector's home, the music virtuoso can be heard saying 'I think I killed someone'.
His driver, Adriano de Souza, says he saw Spector emerge from the back of the home clutching a snub-nosed pistol, shortly after making the call.
In both of his trials - the first ending in a mistrial - jurors were taken to examine the murder scene.
Spector was eventually convicted of her murder in 2009. He was supposed to be eligible for parole in 2024.
An HBO docudrama has been made on the Clarkson case with Al Pacino starring as Spector.
Spector has been married twice. He was married to Ronnie Spector, who fronted the girl group the Ronettes, from 1968 to 1974, and married his second wife Rachelle Short, in 2006.
He is survived by his wife Rachelle, and his three children adopted during his marriage to Ronnie Spector and a daughter by his ex-girlfriend Janis Zavala.

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