Birthday: December 26, 1939
Died At Age: 81
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Harvey Phillip Spector, Phillip Harvey Spector
Born Country: United States
Born in: New York
Famous as: Record Producer
Lyricists & Songwriters
Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Rachelle Short (m. 2006), Ronnie Spector (m. 1968–1974)
children: Donte Phillip Spector, Gary Phillip Spector, Louis Phillip Spector, Nicole Audrey Spector, Phillip Spector Jr.
Died on: January 16, 2021
place of death: French Camp, California, U.S.
U.S. State: New Yorkers
Founder/Co-Founder: Warner-Spector Records, Philles Records, Annette Records
education: Fairfax High School
Phillip Harvey Spector was an American musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer who contributed immensely to pop music. He wrote his first hit song when he was in high school and proceeded to pen lyrics for various famous singers in the ensuing years. By the age of 21, he had produced 20 consecutive hits and was already a millionaire. He was also known for developing a unique music production technique called the Wall of Sound that incorporated sounds from an array of orchestral instruments. After being used and appreciated for over three decades since it was started, Wall of Sound is still considered a milestone in recording history. Well-known as an auteur, he was the first musical artist who completely controlled every phase of the recording process. He won a Grammy Award in 1973 and was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Due to certain unfortunate circumstances, he became inactive in the 1980s and was never able to reclaim his former glory as a musician. He was convicted of the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 and received a 19-year prison sentence. Phil Spector died in a prison hospital on January 16, 2021.
Childhood & Early Life
Phil Spector was born on December 26, 1939, in New York. When he was nine, his father, Ben, an ironworker, committed suicide. His mother then moved the family to Los Angeles in 1953. She worked as a seamstress to make ends meet.
Phil Spector attended Fairfax High School, where he learned to play the guitar and also started writing songs, including Don't You Worry My Little Pet. He formed a music group The Teddy Bears along with fellow students.
During his high school days, he wrote his first number 1 hit song, To Know Him Is to Love Him, which helped the group sign a contract with Imperial Records. After the Teddy Bears’ song I Don't Need You Anymore and a few other singles did not do too well, the group disbanded in 1959.
During this period, record producer Stan Ross mentored Phil Spector and was impressed by his record production style.
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When Teddy Bears disbanded, Spector moved to New York and worked as an apprentice to lyricist Jerry Leiber and composer Mike Stoller. He co-wrote with Jerry Leiber the Top 10 hit song Spanish Harlem for R&B singer Ben E. King. Around this time, he also worked with Dune Records and produced a number of hits.
In 1961, he and Lester Sill, a record label executive, formed a record company called Philles Records. They signed a contract with the Crystals, a vocal group. While their first single, There's No Other (Like My Baby),made it to number 20 on the Billboard chart, the second single, Uptown, reached number 13.
For some time, Spector worked as a freelancer with various artists and some of his productions like Second Hand Love were successful. Later, he worked as the head of A&R for Liberty Records.
The song He's a Rebel, produced under his label, reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. During this period, Lester Sill left the company and Spector became its sole owner.
Despite his initial success, Spector’s career started floundering in the mid-1960s. His label, Philles, was not giving him the expected returns. Even his desperate last attempt with the team of Ike and Tina Turner failed to bring luck to the company. As a result, Spector lost interest in his company and the recording industry, and went into seclusion for three years.
In 1969, he returned to the music business and signed with A&M Records. He once again achieved success with the single Black Pearl.
In 1970, John Lennon, a co-founder of the Beatles; and George Harrison, the lead guitarist of the band, asked Spector to produce the Beatles' abandoned album Get Back with a new name. Spector used many of his unique production techniques and made significant changes to the album, which was renamed as Let It Be. The album became a smashing hit and topped the US and the UK charts.
In 1971, Spector and George Harrison produced the song Bangla Desh, which was a hit. That year, he also recorded the music for the album The Concert for Bangladesh, which reached number 1. He used his unique technique the Wall of Sound for the album.
For the next few years, he worked with the Beatles and produced many successful albums. But during this time, his behavior was gradually becoming bizarre and unpredictable. Eventually, the Beatles parted ways with him. He was out of the music industry for almost three decades till the early 2000s.
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Phil Spector’s first hit song, To Know Him Is to Love Him, reached number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1958 and stayed at the position for three weeks. It sold over a million copies.
In 1969, the song Black Pearl, co-written and produced by Spector, reached number 13 on the Billboard pop chart and number 8 on the R&B chart. It was later included in Checkmates, Ltd’s album Love Is All We Have to Give.
Spector produced the Beatles’ album ‘Let It Be’ which became a huge commercial success. The single ‘The Long and Winding Road’ from the album peaked at the number 1 position in the US.
Family & Personal Life
Phil Spector’s first wife was singer Annette Merar. After their divorce, he married singer Veronica Bennett in 1968. The couple, who divorced in 1974, had adopted three children—Donté Phillip Spector, Louis Phillip Spector, and Gary Phillip Spector.
He had twin children—Nicole Audrey Spector and Phillip Spector, Jr. with his girlfriend Janis Zavala. Phillip Jr. died of leukemia in 1991.
Spector married Rachelle Short in September 2006. This marriage too did not work out and he filed for divorce in April 2016.
In 1974, he met with a serious car accident. He was about to be declared dead at the spot, when the attending police officer detected a faint pulse. He was admitted to the hospital with serious head injuries and underwent several hours of surgery.
On February 3, 2003 actress Lana Clarkson was found dead with a gunshot wound in Spector's Pyrenees Castle in Alhambra, California. Spector was arrested but freed on a $1 million bail. Trial began in March 2007. He was found guilty in a retrial in October 2008 and was sentenced to 19 years to life.
During the trial, his ex-wife Veronica Bennett said that Spector had imprisoned her in his California mansion, from where she escaped with her mother’s help in 1972. His adopted sons, Donte and Gary Spector, stated that Spector had also kept them imprisoned as children and forced them to perform sex acts with his girlfriend.
Phil Spector was ill since October 2013, and had been admitted at a prison hospital. He suffered from laryngeal papillomatosis in 2014, and lost his ability to speak.
Phil Spector died in a prison hospital on January 16, 2021, at French Camp, California. His family attributed his death to complications of COVID-19.