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Phil Spector
Phil Spector 2000.jpg
Spector in 2000
Background information
Birth name Harvey Phillip Spector
Also known as Phil Harvey
Born (1939-12-26)December 26, 1939
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died January 16, 2021(2021-01-16) (aged 81)
Stockton, California, U.S.
  • Record producer
  • songwriter
  • label chief
Years active 1958–2009
Associated acts

Harvey Phillip Spector (December 26, 1939 – January 16, 2021) was an American musician (piano, guitar), songwriter and record producer. He was most famous as a producer. He was co-owner of Philles Records (with then-business partner Lester Sill), and later owner of Phil Spector Records. In 2009 he was found guilty of the second degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

Spector died on January 16, 2021 while in prison from problems caused by COVID-19.

The "Wall of Sound"

Spector's signature style was called the Wall of Sound. He used large amounts of echo, doubling and multiplying of musical instruments and the parts to be played, and overdubbing of recorded parts. The built-up effect gave his records an operatic, theatrical quality. The music sounded "bigger than life". The effect carried over especially well on AM radio, which was how most music was broadcast in the 1950s and 1960s. Spector said the Wall of Sound made "...little symphonies for the kids...".

The recording artists who worked with Spector over the years included The Crystals ("Then He Kissed Me"), The Ronettes ("Be My Baby"), The Righteous Brothers ("You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"), Gene Pitney ("Every Breath I Take"), Darlene Love ("(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry"), and Tina Turner ("River Deep, Mountain High"). Sonny Bono and Cher were among his backup singers. He married Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett of the Ronettes, who took the name Ronnie Spector.

Spector's strongest work was in creating hit singles.

Many other producers and musicians imitated the Wall of Sound style, or included elements of it in their own work, including Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. Wilson thought of Spector as his biggest rival, although the two did work together on one song, that was used in a public service announcement.

The Beatles

The Beatles handed over the rough tapes of their unfinished Get Back album for Spector to post-produce, after John Lennon and George Harrison both worked successfully with him on "Instant Karma!'", which became a hit single for Lennon. Let it Be was the title for the finished album (and movie, filmed during the recording sessions). Beatles fans bought and enjoyed the album and its singles, but some fans and experts disliked portions of Spector's work. Paul McCartney hated the changes Spector made to "The Long and Winding Road", which he meant to have a simple accompaniment, but was released with a choir and orchestra added. McCartney never recorded with Spector, but the other three Beatles worked with him several times, on solo recordings.

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