Phil Spector invented the “Wall of Sound” and created almost everything that is great and sacred in pop music – then he committed a murder. He has now died in prison as a result of a corona infection.
Nobody has created bigger monster hits, and nobody has destroyed his life’s work more thoroughly than the teenage Schmalzier, studio dictator and coke-maker Phil Spector, the creator of almost everything that is great and sacred in pop music: “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes, “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner, “Imagine” by John Lennon, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison, “Death of A Ladies’ Man »by Leonard Cohen.
But he was not only brutal in his music, he was also in prison for manslaughter until the end. He is said to have shot several times in the course of his decades-long career in the studio when the musicians couldn’t produce the sound he had in mind, and then, at the end of his musical career, he shot an acquaintance by chance and spent the last 17 years of his life in one California prison where he died Saturday after contracting the coronavirus.
Every triumph was followed by a crash
Spector was born in the Bronx in 1939, played a little guitar at school and formed a band called Teddy Bears, which had a medium hit in 1958 with the flattering “To Know Him Is To Love Him”. The title was supposedly inspired by the saying on his father’s tombstone. However, Spector’s talents were in production. He started working at the Tin Pan Alley hit factory long enough to learn the tricks of making hits. Soon he got his own label, Philles Records, and began recording “little symphonies for teenagers” in a bombast style never heard before. This is how Tom Wolfe, who composed a legendary portrait of the «first teenage tycoon» in 1965, described the compression works, which in two to three and a half minutes recorded everything about puberty and puberty, ranging from exultant and deeply saddened.
Even then Spector appeared as a paranoid madman who got more out of the musicians, singers and the technical possibilities of the studio than was possible. He let violins smack and the winds cheer, Tina Turner had to shout her heart out and everything had to crash against the Wall of Sound, which then landed a hundredfold on the records, which had to be in mono.
Because art is naturally related to misfortune in the classic story, he married his star Ronnie Spector and locked her up at home, killing her career. The Beatles got him out, Dennis Hopper shot “Easy Rider” with him, the Ramones hoped for their records to shine: every triumph was followed by a fall into oblivion, and then came murder.
If, as the rock’n’roller Bill Shakespeare knew, music of love is food, then Phil Spector, released from all earthly gravity, continues to play in the unearthly recording studio, happily unarmed and disarmingly heavenly.