Phil Spector Dead at 81

The famed "Wall of Sound" producer reportedly died of COVID-19 complications

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jan 17, 2021

"Wall of Sound" production legend Phil Spector has died. This morning it was revealed the producer died of "natural causes" on Saturday (September 16). He was 81.

Spector's passing was announced by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, who revealed he died at an undisclosed outside hospital. Since 2009, Spector had been in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder. But while the CDCR stated Spector "was pronounced deceased of natural causes," TMZ reports that the producer died due to COVID-19 complications.

Born on December 26, 1940, in New York City, Spector began his production career in the early 1960s, when he helmed a long stream of hits. Among his many productions were the likes of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Unchained Melody," and the Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron," just to name a few.

In 1963, Spector delivered his incredibly classic holiday album A Christmas Gift to You from Philles Records, as well as went on to produce Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" in 1966. However, after the song failed to reach the level of success Spector thought it deserved, he began to become disillusioned with the music industry, leading him to take a hiatus.

By the 1970s, Spector began to earn a reputation as a gun-carrying eccentric, with controversy soon surrounding the producer in the decades that followed. His '70s period still found the producer contributing to now-classic albums, including the Beatles' Let It Be, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass and John Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

In 1979, Spector notably worked on the Ramones' End of the Century album, as well as Leonard Cohen on 1977's Death of a Ladies Man — though both sessions were said to be marred by Spector's gun use in the studio. Spector was said to have held guns to both Cohen, as well as various Ramones members, during both the respective sessions.

In 2003, Spector was arrested when the dead body of actress Lana Clarkson was found in his California mansion. While the murder case was initially declared a mistrial in 2007, Spector was later sentenced in 2009 to 19 years in prison for Clarkson's death.

Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

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