Phil Spector, Pioneer Of ‘Wall Of Sound’ Technique, Passes Away At 81
Phil Spector - gussie5555 / Youtube
Phil Spector, the producer who popularized the “Wall of Sound” technique and handled production duties for artists and bands like The Beatles, The Ramones, and George Harrison, has died on Saturday at the age of 81.
He was in the process of serving a 19-to-life sentence for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, with his conviction coming in 2009.
Spector’s passing was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with a news release that read: California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital. His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.”
Phil Spector was born on December 26, 1939, in the Bronx and started his career as a member of the teenage vocal group called the Teddy Bears, hitting the top of the Billboard charts with the 1958 song, “To Know Him Is To Love Him”.
By the ’60s, he began writing songs and producing music with groups like the Ronettes, the Crystals, the Righteous Brothers, and Ike & Tina Turner. This was when his “Wall of Sound” technique was beginning to gain traction, even influencing the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson.
After a brief period of rest later in the decade, Spector began working with the Beatles and its individual members. He worked on John Lennon’s “Instant Karma!” and also on the Beatles’ final recordings from Let It Be, where he made drastic changes to the music including choral and orchestral overdubs. He was also involved in Lennon’s 1970 release, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and 1971’s Imagine, George Harrison’s 1970 album All Things Must Pass, and his live album of 1971, Concert for Bangladesh.
Spector suffered from a horrible crash in 1974 and was subjected to several surgeries as a result. Later on, he would produce Leonard Cohen’s 1977 LP, Death of A Ladies’ Man, along with the Ramones’ End of the Century by 1980. People began to report on Spector’s erratic behavior in this period as well. “He was drinking very heavily. He wasn’t a man in control of himself. He’d even wear guns on the phones with record executives — in order to give himself a bit of an edge, it seemed, over the telephone,” said journalist Mick Brown to NPR.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 albeit being largely out of the picture in the decade save for his involvement with Yoko Ono’s Season of Glass in 1981. Spector also pulled out of a Celine Dion project due to misunderstandings with her management. He was credited as a co-producer on indie-rock band Starsailor’s 2003 LP, Silence Is Easy.
Spector was convicted of second-degree murder on April 13, 2009, for the death of actress Lana Clarkson six years prior.