b. Harvey Phillip Spector, 25th December 1940, The Bronx, New York City, U.S.A.
d. 16th January 2021, Stockton, San Joaquin County, California, U.S.A.
Phil Spector was an artist, as well as a producer, however, the latter description is how the man has been defined by the media and general public.
Much of the man's production work involved input from Black artists during the Sixties, thus his inclusion here at this website.
Born in the Bronx in 1940. Phil Spector has generally seen his life very much from the perspective of a loner.
He has shunned the limelight and has thus been seen with mistrusting eyes by the music industry and the journalistic media alike.
the teddy bears
His early career saw him become part of the ensemble, the Teddy Bears, during 1958, who are best remembered for the pop hit 'To Know Him Is To Love Him', a song perceived by many as a love song, however, in reality, it was a tune dedicated to his father, (the songs title being the words engraved on his fathers grave headstone).
As a songwriter, it is not well documented that Phil was the co-writer (along with Jerry Lieber) of the melody 'Spanish Harlem' (later covered by Aretha Franklin amongst others).
He left the Teddy Bears and pursued his production career, forming his own Philles imprint, and recruiting the likes of the Crystals and the Ronettes. It was with these groups he began developing his legendary, multi-layered 'wall of sound'.
The songs penned for these early female singing ensembles were mainly very simple tales of love and teenage yearnings.
Spector built layer upon layer of strings, horns and full instrumentation without overpowering the female led melodies.
These recordings were imitated, but never emulated by the likes of the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, which Phil stated became an obsession with some of these group's band members (allegedly).
By 1965, these recordings developed into newer area's, most notably culminating with his work with the Blue Eyed Soul duo, the Righteous Brothers.
'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' ran for over four minutes as a 45. During these years, most of the single releases ran for 3 minutes to allow for radio station programming. Spector changed the written timings on the 45 label in order for the single to become more acceptable to the stations (the song later became the single with the greatest amount of airplay in the United States throughout the Twentieth Century).
In 1966, Phil began work with Ike and Tina Turner, stating that Tina Turner was the 'artist he had always been looking for'.
'River Deep Mountain High' received very poor publicity in the States, however, the song hit the number one spot on the national charts in the U.K., laying the foundation for later success for the R & B duo.
Phil became disillusioned with the U.S. musical media and retired, temporarily, to his mansion in Los Angeles, marrying Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes.
During the later 1960's, Phil resurfaced, working with the Beatles on their final studio album 'Let It Be', which Phil stated himself, was 'in a mess' when the masters were originally handed to him.
He later worked with George Harrison and John Lennon as solo performers, following the Beatles seperation.
John Lennon was once quoted as saying that 'Phil Spector saved Rock N' Roll, whilst Elvis was in the army'.
mean streets 1973
He worked on the two ex-Beatles first individual albums and became a good friend to John Lennon, whom, after pointing out to Phil that an unknown Martin Scorcese was utilising one of his early recordings on his early movie vehicle 'Mean Streets', allowed the director to use the song, thus contributing to the movie makers career.
In 1969, Phil played the role of a drug dealer in the movie vehicle Easy Rider.
During the seventies and eighties, he worked sporadically with the likes of the Ramones, Leonard Cohen and Dion.
His mistrust of various sections of the American media pushed him into a seclusive lifestyle, which, in turn, turned him into a fascination with the tabloid papers.
During the eighties he was increasingly viewed by the media as an eccentric with a reclusive temperament and obsessive behavior, a perception compounded by the suicide of an actress /comedian called Lana Clarkson, which culminated with a mistrial following a second-degree murder case.
Phil Spector see's his career as being stifled by a system, which he perceives, rewards those white artists, whose artistic contributions have been suspect, whilst victimising himself in the way he feels the likes of many Black artists have been mistreated over the previous 5 decades.
In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.
In April 2009, he was found guilty of the murder of Lana Clarkson, and was expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. His lawyers were to appeal.
Phil Spector passed away from Covid-19 in 2021.
Phil Spector's Christmas Album (Philles Records 1963)