Entertainment behind the scenes
Phil Spector’s career was in shackles long before he was
Music producer Phil Spector was sentenced on Friday to 19 years to life in prison for shooting to death Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. But the day of judgment for the “Wall of Sound” creator came long after his high-wattage career had dimmed to a glow.
Spector was most famous in the 1960s, when he worked with The Ronettes, Ike and Tina Turner and The Beatles. The radio-friendly tilt of his sound earned him the nickname The Tycoon of Teen in the ’60s, and he called his “Wall of Sound” technique “little symphonies for the kids,” because it involved overdubbing many musicians playing a wide range of instruments. But it’s a rare teen today who would be all that familiar with Spector’s recordings.
By the 1980s, Spector had withdrawn from the music industry, with his last major recording coming in 1980 as the Ramones album “End of the Century.” His reputation was harmed by that last album, amid stories that he threatened the punk band with a gun to get them to do his musical bidding. He still collected heavy royalties, but the 1980s era of MTV and compact discs passed him by, as did the 1990s popularity of rap and alternative rock.
Spector, 69, may end up dying in prison. He won’t even be eligible for parole until he’s 88 years-old. When he was convicted in April of murdering Clarkson, it was widely covered in the news media, but it failed to attract the public interest generated by pop star Michael Jackson’s 2005 acquittal of child molestation. Since the sentencing was largely a formality – Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler required by law to give a hefty sentence to Spector – there was little suspense involved in Friday’s hearing. And for a public only accustomed to hearing Spector’s musical work on “oldies radio,” is his sentencing just another criminal case?