Phil Spector death: Beatles producer and convicted murderer dies aged 81

Spector died while serving a 19-year to life murder sentence

Annabel Nugent
Sunday 17 January 2021 18:53
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Phil Spector death dies aged 81
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Phil Spector, the revolutionary music producer convicted of murdering actor Lana Clarkson, has died aged 81.

Spector’s death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he had been serving a murder sentence. 

The music producer was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35pm on 16 January at an outside hospital, according to a statement issued to Rolling Stone.

An exact cause of death is yet to be announced but will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

Spector – real name Harvey Philip Spector – rose to fame working with groups in the Sixties such as The Ronettes and The Crystals.

Spector during his murder trial at Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles in 2007

The Bronx-born producer created four top 10 hits in 1963, including The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me”, as well as The Ronnettes’ “Be My Baby”. 

He went on to work with  Leonard Cohen, The Ramones and The Beatles. Spector was responsible for producing The Beatles’s final studio album, Let It Be, which was released in 1970. 

In March 1974, Spector suffered severe injuries after he was thrown through the windshield of a car in Hollywood. He was nearly declared dead at the scene of the car crash and required surgeryto keep him alive. 

Three years later, the producer worked with Cohen on his album Death of a Ladies Man, which Spector followed up with his work on The Ramones’ End of the Century in 1980.

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Spector stepped back from the music scene throughout the Eighties and Nineties. 

Spector with The Rolling Stones in 1964

In February 2003, police were called to his house in Alhambra, California where the actor Lana Clarkson – who had starred in the coming-of-age comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and Scarface (1982) – had been shot dead. 

Spector was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

At the time, he claimed that the shooting occurred when Clarkson had “kissed the gun”. 

Spector remained free on bail for four years until his trial began in March 2007.

During the trial, the court heard from four women who claimed that Spector had previously threatened them with a gun when they had rejected his advances. 

The judge declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict. A second trial began in 2008 and when the case went to the jury in 2009, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder and given a prison sentence of 19 years to life.

Spector’s health grew worse during his time in prison and in 2013, the former producer was moved to an inpatient care unit. 

Throughout his sentence, Spector’s legal team made numerous applications for appeals, but all were refused. 

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