Music producer Phil Spector has died following complications from coronavirus, while serving a murder sentence.
According to TMZ, Phil Spector had contracted Covid-19 and was rushed back to the hospital after having trouble breathing. Sources told the publication Phil Spector was first diagnosed with the virus four weeks ago, when he was hospitalised for the first time.
Initially, he had recovered well and was released from the hospital, before falling unwell again. Following his death, a statement shared by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated: ‘Phil Spector has died of natural causes in hospital.’ Spector had been taken to hospital from his prison cell, where he had been serving a 19 years to life sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. He was convicted in 2009, six years after Lana was killed at Spector’s home from a gunshot.
Spector’s first trial took place in 2007 but was ruled a mistrial because of a hung jury. Spector’s retrial began in October 2008 and he was found guilty of murder in the second degree in April 2009. Four years were added to Spector’s sentence, as he was also found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
He was taken into custody in May 2009 and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. Spector would have been eligible for parole in 2024.
He found fame as a record producer, musician and song-writer and was known for developing a music production formula known as the Wall of Sound – something which was later adopted by Bruce Springsteen and the Beach Boys. Spector kicked off his career in the late 1950s as a guitarist and vocalist for the Teddy Bears.
He wrote their single To Know Him Is To Love Him that went to number one in the US and at the age of 21, Spector established his own record label, Philles Records – making him the youngest label owner in the US at the time. He worked and produced records for big names like the Ronettes and Ike and Tina Turner, before announcing his retirement from the music industry in 1966.
Three years later, Spector decided to end his retirement and get back into the music business, with him going on to work with The Beatles and producing their album Let It Be, released in 1970, as well as their well-known single The Long and Winding Road. Spector was also behind solo tracks released by The Beatles stars John Lennon and George Harrison, and he co-wrote and produced The Righteous Brothers 1964 hit You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. Other hits to Spector’s name include John Lennon’s Imagine and Tina Turner track River Deep, Mountain High.
Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. He was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2013, HBO released a made-for-TV biopic on Spector, that follows the story of his murder trials and focused on the relationship between Spector and his defence attorney, Linda Kenney Baden, in his first trial. Spector was played by Al Pacino, while Helen Mirren took on the role of Kenney Baden.
Following its release the movie caused controversy over ‘fictionalising’ aspects of the case and allegedly neglecting significant evidence given by the real-life prosecution. It was accused of favouring Spector – however, a lawyer for Spector said he had no involvement in the film, stating Spector ‘certainly doesn’t regard the film as an accurate portrayal of what went on because it’s not’. The movie begins with a disclaimer that reads: ‘This is a work of fiction. It’s not “based on a true story”… It is a drama inspired by actual persons on a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome.’