Legendary American producer Phil Spector died on Saturday of “Natural death” at the age of 81, the California Department of Corrections said in a statement on Sunday.
Famous for his compositions from the 1960s (Be My Baby, You’ve Lost That Lovin’Feelin’, Da Doo Ron Ron), which served as models for the first Beach Boys songs, the American producer then collaborated with the Beatles (the disc Let It Be and the first solo albums of John Lennon and George Harrison), as well as with Leonard Cohen and the Ramones during the following decade. In particular, he developed the famous technique known as the “sound wall”, which consisted in superimposing several sounds to densify the production, in particular many instruments.
Convicted of murder
Phil Spector was sentenced in 2009 to nineteen years in prison, after being convicted of the shooting murder of actress Lana Clarkson on February 3, 2003, in his Los Angeles mansion. The actress, star of “Barbarian Queen” and other B-movies, was found shot dead in Phil Spector’s mansion.
At the end of a first trial in 2007, Phil Spector had not been convicted. He was living at large on bail of one million dollars. “It’s a great day for the justice system”, welcomed the prosecutor at the announcement of the verdict, which ” send a message “ to the perpetrators of crimes and violence, “Whatever their fame, whatever their wealth”.
Decades ago he was celebrated as a “Sound genius” by profession. « First teenage emperor “, according to the American writer Tom Wolfe in 1965, “Richard Wagner of the Pop”, as journalist Nick Kent writes, he was also referred to as “Greatest record producer of all time” by John Lennon.
In the fall of 1958, Phil Spector had his first number 1 with the Teddy Bears: To Know Him Is to Love Him. In April 1966, River Deep – Mountain High, for Ike and Tina Turner, now a monument song, is a failure. Between these two songs, the “Genius” Spector, producer, arranger, songwriter will have written many classics in the history of popular music: Spanish Harlem, by Ben E. King, Uptown, Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me, by the Crystals, Be My Baby, by the Ronettes, the two female vocal groups he created, You’ve Lost that Lovin’Feelin’, Unchained Melody, par les Righteous Brothers…
After producing Let It Be, from the last Beatles recording sessions, to several albums from former solo band members, Phil Spector saw his star fade as the 1970s wore on.