Famed Beatles’ producer Phil Spector died yesterday, January 16. Spector died in jail where he was serving a minimum 19-year sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson. The cause of death is reported natural causes. Spector was 81 years old.
Spector was born in 1939 in New York City. Spector began producing and writing music as early as high school, beginning with his own band, The Teddy Bears. Throughout his career, he was most celebrated for his “wall of sound” production technique, where he would double – or triple – the same parts of tracks to create a fuller and reverberated sound.
Spector also produced for many rock ‘n’ roll legends; most notably, he produced many tracks for The Beatles, The Ramones, The Beach Boys, The Ronettes and many others. Spector was especially known for his work with The Beatles, having produced their 12th and final record Let It Be, released in 1970. Following his successes, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1980. His work in the music industry was largely concentrated in the 1960s and ‘70s, yet Spector would continue to remain in the public eye for the years to come.
In 2009, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson, for which he was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. In 2003, Clarkson was found dead in Spector’s LA mansion in the suburb of Alhambra, with a gunshot wound to the roof of her mouth. Spector was then first indicted in 2004. The trial was anything but smooth – a mistrial was first declared after a deadlocked jury before he was finally convicted in 2009. Even still, Spector’s attorneys tried to appeal the decision on the grounds of jury bias after a video of Spector discussing the forensic evidence was shown to the jurors. The court denied the appeal and ruled that Spector would not be allowed to file an appeal again. After Spector was found guilty, he still received producing credit for the debut album of Rachelle Spector, his then-wife, called Out of My Chelle released in June of 2010.
Prior to his conviction, Spector was briefly married to The Ronette’s vocalist Ronnie Bennett, who later divorced him after six years. Following the divorce, she wrote in her memoir about Spector’s threats to kill her if she ever tried to leave. Spector had a longtime struggle with paranoia and other mental health issues, including bipolar disorder.
The official cause of death is set to be determined by the medical examiner for San Joaquin County, as per a statement released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.