Phil Spector, the record producer who took rock music to the next level with his “wall of sound” technique and convicted murderer has died.
In a statement issued out by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Phil Spector was confirmed to have died of natural causes on Saturday, January 16th, 2021. He was 81.
“California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital,” officials said in a statement.
“His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.”
It was reported (via The New York Times) that the music producer had contracted COVID-19 recently and his death was related to complications stemming from the disease.
Deemed as one of the first auteurs in the music industry for how he exerted creative control during recording sessions, Spector changed the way rock music was produced when he developed his famous “wall of sound” technique, something he described as a “Wagnerian approach to rock and roll.”
Spector’s approach to how music was produced helped paved the way for genres such as art rock, dream pop and shoegazing. In addition to his pioneering work in the studio, Spector also worked with several influential artists during a very prolific period during the 60s and 70s.
This period included writing, co-writing or producing hit records for the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Ike & Tina Turner, producing The Beatles’ Let It Be, and working with the likes of Leonard Cohen and the Ramones.
But for all his influence on pop and rock music, Spector’s achievements were overshadowed by his personal struggles.
After being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1989, the producer reported began acting increasingly erratic and violent.
Spector was arrested in 2003 in relation to the shooting of actress Lana Clarkson and was later convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison and ultimately died there.
Hours after news of Spector’s death broke, the producer’s ex-wife Ronnie Spector, who was married to him from 1968 to 1974 and was a victim of his abuse, shared her thoughts on the matter in an Instagram post.
“It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me,” writes Ronnie. “When I was working with Phil Spector, watching him create in the recording studio, I knew I was working with the very best. He was in complete control, directing everyone. So much to love about those days.”
“Meeting him and falling in love was like a fairytale,” she continued. “The magical music we were able to make together, was inspired by our love. I loved him madly, and gave my heart and soul to him.”
While Ronnie was one of Phil’s victims, she opted to remember what he was best known for: his work in the studio.
“I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will,” Ronnie concluded her message. “The music will be forever”