New York, Jan 17 (efe-epa).- Phil Spector, one of the most highly acclaimed modern music producers, the creator of the so-called “Wall of Sound,” died on the weekend, apparently from complications from Covid, which he contracted in prison, according to reports. He was 81.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed Spector’s death, saying that he had died of “natural causes.”
The iconic record producer – who since 2009 had been serving a 19-year-to-life sentence in a prison in Stockton, California, for the 2003 second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson – was diagnosed with Covid-19 four weeks ago and died Saturday afternoon in the outside hospital where he was receiving treatment for renewed respiratory difficulties after an apparent improvement in his health.
Although authorities said that an autopsy will be performed to determine the official cause of death, the TMZ entertainment Web site reported that Spector had suffered recently from Covid-19 citing sources with “direct” knowledge of the matter.
The eccentric producer built his fame in the recording industry working to help craft the careers of Tina Turner, The Beatles, The Righteous Brothers and many others, creating a recording technique he termed the “Wall of Sound,” an approach to music for teens that mixed, overdubbed and combined multiple instruments so that single instruments did not stand out Rather, as he said, a dense “Wagnerian approach” to pop and rock music was created of “little symphonies” in the tight and catchy songs favored by the young listening public in the 1950s and ’60s.
Admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, Spector was born into a Jewish family in The Bronx in 1939 and rocketed to recording fame in 1961 by forming a musical trio called The Teddy Bears and putting out the No. 1 hit single “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” later launching his Phillies Records label to put his stamp on the industry with his orchestral new sound.
He became a music magnate at age 23, presiding over the release of a series of songs with popular “girl groups,” including The Ronettes (“Be My Baby” and “Baby, I Love You”), and marrying that group’s main singer Ronnie, a union that ended in a 1972 divorce.
He worked with Tina Turner to put out the 1966 single “River Deep – Mountain High,” and – although the album was a hit abroad – it bombed in the US, and with that failure Spector holed himself up in his mansion and his behavior became increasingly erratic and bizarre.
Spector began a comeback in the late ’60s, finalizing and mixing The Beatles’ 1970 hit album “Let It Be, directing the taping of The Ramones’ best-selling 1980 album “End of the Century” – yet all the while indulging his affinity for weapons and exhibiting his volatile personality in artistic circles, including over the years pointing his ever-present pistol at a number of musical stars.
He continued to work with the former members of The Beatles after their break-up, going on to produce John Lennon’s “Imagine” and George Harrison’s “The Concert for Bangladesh.”
He produced dozens of pop and rock hits, raising many of them into the category of classics, working with a wide variety of musical icons and, along the way, producing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” by The Righteous Brothers, which became 20th century’s most-played song on radio and TV.
All this came crashing down around him in 2003 when Clarkson was found dead of a gunshot wound in Spector’s home a few hours after the pair had left a nightclub where she was working.
After a mistrial in 2007 due to a hung jury, Spector was subjected to a second murder trial and this time was convicted and handed a sentence of 19 years to life.