Phil Spector, the man responsible for more of your good times than you realise, has been convicted of blowing the actress Lara Clarkson’s head off. The crazy-haired production boffin is renowned for being ‘a bit screwy’, and is said to have shot Clarkson during a bout of Russian roulette, a game Spector was fond of playing when pissed. His legend is a dark one.
The prosecution at the trial described Spector as a “demonic maniac”. They also said Clarkson was the sixth woman he’d played Russian roulette with, and the other five had just been lucky the gun barrel was empty when he pulled the trigger. But hey ho, even if Spector does end his already-pretty-peculiar days in prison, he’ll always be remembered for the ocean of singles he churned out, particularly from 1960 - 1965 when he produced 25 top 40 hits.
Perhaps his biggest hit (listed as having the most airplay of any song in 20th century America) is 1965’s You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers. It’s a prime example of Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ production method that everyone bangs on about, which involved loads of people playing the same orchestrated parts of a song, all on the same instrument, all at the same time:
Spector also produced the only other Righteous Brothers song that anyone (including, excellently, Elvis and, sadly, Robson & Jerome) has ever heard of, 1965’s Unchained Melody which is most famous for appearing in the film Ghost. It’s also Simon Cowell’s favourite song:
One of the greatest tracks Spector was involved with was his reproduction of the album version (from Let It Be) of The Beatles’ The Long And Winding Road in 1970. Spector’s rehashing of it pissed Paul McCartney off so much that he cited it in court as one of the reasons why everyone’s favourite scousers should break up:
John Lennon didn’t care though, and roped Spector in to produce his single Imagine in 1971, undoubtedly Lennon’s biggest hit and a song that’s always given big love in Best Songs Ever lists:
Spector is widely credited with having been the pioneer of 1960s girl groups for his work with The Ronettes. Spector was married to lead singer Veronica Bennett (aka Ronnie Spector) and for six years, a situation that dissolved rapidly after Phil locked Bennett inside for much of the late ‘60s, hid her shoes so she wouldn’t walk anywhere and played her Citizen Kane over and over again. 1963’s Be My Baby is a banger though:
One of many stars that Spector worked with before she was famous was Tina Turner, for whom he produced 1966’s River Deep Mountain High, a track he still regards as his best work. Phil banned Turner’s husband from coming into the studio because didn’t approve of Ike Turner’s controlling attitude in the studio:
Spector liked taking on bands who wanted to crank their fame up a notch or two. In 2003 he tried (and failed) to make indie dullards Starsailor interesting (we assume he’d gone completely insane by this point). But in 1980 he'd made an admirable attempt at turning cult New York punk-rockers the Ramones into something more widely accepted. By threatening them with guns. Which worked a bit, like when they had a bash at Baby I Love You: