Page last updated at 20:12 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2003

Phil Spector: Pop innovator

Phil Spector (photographed in 1993)
Spector brought a new sound to pop music
Legendary pop producer Phil Spector has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a woman at his California home. BBC News Online looks at how he became a household name.

Spector has worked with some of the biggest names in the pop and rock business, such as the Beatles and Ike and Tina Turner.

He has produced such hits as You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' by the Righteous Brothers and the Ronettes' Be My Baby.

The 62-year-old is a pioneer in pop record production, winning fame for his Wall of Sound technique featuring lush orchestration mixed into rock and roll.

But friends and colleagues have talked of a troubled side to Spector in the past.

Production credits
George Harrison
John Lennon
Yoko Ono
The Crystals
The Ronettes
Righteous Brothers
Ike and Tina Turner
The Ramones
"He was extremely eccentric, he liked to keep his house dark, and there was the famous phase where he did not come out of the house for a very long time," music commentator Paul Gambaccini told BBC Radio Five Live.

"And he did alienate people," he added.

Born Harvey Phillip Spector, the New Yorker started out as a musician in his own right in 1958 as a member of the Los Angeles band the Teddy Bears.

Inspiration

As songwriter, guitarist and backup singer for the band, which hit the big time with To Know Him is to Love Him, he became a millionaire by the age of 21.

The song was inspired by the inscription on the gravestone of his father Benjamin, who committed suicide in 1949.

When the Teddy Bears split up he moved back to New York where he continued to write songs and produce records, notably for the Crystals and the Ronettes, effectively creating the concept of the girl group.

He created the Wall of Sound effect, which involved overdubbing scores of musicians to create a massive roar. It changed the way pop records were produced.

His session players included guitarist Glen Campbell, pianist Leon Russell, drummer Hal Blaine and the late Sonny Bono. They were affectionately called The Wrecking Crew.

'Gun incident'

Spector ran his own record label with Lester Sill under the name Philles, eventually buying out his partner.

Some say his career had reached its zenith by 1966, when a Spector-produced record, Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High, failed commercially and he stepped back from the public eye and closed down Philles Records.

But he went on to produce the Beatles' album Let it Be which was released in 1970.

He continued his association with the Beatles following their break-up, working with John Lennon on Imagine and helping Yoko Ono produce Lennon's work after his death.

He also produced George Harrison's All Things Must Pass in 1970.

He became legendary - even notorious - for his eccentric habits while recording with artists.

'Optimistic'

In 1980, Spector was working with rock band the Ramones on the album End of the Century. While recording, he allegedly pulled a gun on the band in a dispute over master tapes.

After that, he spent almost two decades out of the spotlight, although the US music industry honoured him in 1989, inducting him into its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He was recently lured out of retirement to work with UK band Starsailor to record two songs, his first project for 23 years.

Mick Brown of The Telegraph recently conducted the first interview with Spector in 25 years.

He said Spector was "optimistic" about the future and was keen to re-establish himself as a music producer.

Spector married Ronnie Bennett, a member of the Ronettes, but they divorced in 1974. He has five children.



video and audio news
Phil Gello, music editor of Variety magazine
"He was top of the world by the time he was 21"



SEE ALSO
Rock legend charged with murder
03 Feb 03 |  Entertainment
Spector in 2m payout to The Ronettes
15 Nov 01 |  Entertainment

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