Phil Spector Biography

Though just 5'5" and tipping the scales at 130 pounds, producer Phil Spector was a giant in the music industry during the late 1950s to mid–1960s and created a trademark "Wall of Sound," an innovative multiple track production technique that layered instruments and voices into a dense, echoing orchestration not previously heard in pop music. Had he produced only classic "teenage symphonies" like "I Love How You Love Me," "He's a Rebel," "Be My Baby," or the timeless Righteous Brothers classic, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," the most played record in the history of American radio, his place in rock history would have been assured. In 1970, however, years after the British pop invasion spearheaded by the Beatles had forever changed musical styles making Spector's mid–1960s work passe, John Lennon entry) enlisted the producer for the "Fab Four's" final album, Let It Be (1970). Afterwards, Lennon called upon Spector to produce his anthemic single "Imagine" (and the 1971 album of the same title) while he also produced George Harrison's All Things Must Pass in late 1970. Perhaps more importantly in the history of pop music, Spector turned on its head the notion that the performer was the single most important component behind a successful record as well as the entrenched notion that the producer's role was to serve him. In the studio, Spector reigned supreme and as he produced hit after hit with his "Wall of Sound" technique, the performer became almost extraneous. During Spector's golden era of the early 1960s only the Righteous Brothers emerged from his shadow and many would argue not to their ultimate advantage. By the early 1970s Spector would enter a period of professional self-exile marked by increasingly bizarre and dangerous behavior, principally towards women, that would tragically, if not inevitably, end in his mansion in Alhambra, California in the early morning hours of February 3, 2003. Harvey Philip Spector was born of Ukrainian- Jewish ancestry on December 26, 1939 in the Bronx, New York. For reasons unclear, Spector would later add another "1" to his birth name, Philip. A small, sickly, overweight child, Spector was doted upon by his mother, Bertha, but idolized father Ben, an iron worker. Not surprisingly, an undersized intellectually active Jewish kid who had trouble making friends was constantly bullied at school. Spector was forced to spend most of his time at home in the company of his older sister, Shirley, and his overprotective mother. On April 20, 1949, the nine-year-old boy's life was irrevocably changed when his beloved father was found asphyxiated in the front seat of the family car, a rubber hose leading from its muffler into the vehicle's interior. Fatefully, the legend on Ben Spector's gravestone read "To Know Him Was to Love Him." The truth of his father's death was kept from Spector for some time, and even after he learned it was a suicide he often hid the fact from others. In 1953, the Spector family moved to Los Angeles to start a new life settling in the city's predominantly Jewish Fairfax district. The City of Angels was not a good fit for the teenager who did not like the weather or the laid back vibe. Unathletic and not particularly good looking, "Phillip" (as he now insisted he be called) spent most of his time in his bedroom listening to pop music on the radio. Music had always been in the Spector family home and the teen played French horn in the school orchestra. A quick study with the ability to sight read and improvise, Spector earned pocket money playing accordion at weddings and bar mitzvahs. Mother Bertha encouraged her socially awkward son's interest in music and on his thirteenth birthday bought him a guitar as a bar mitzvah present. Spector embraced the instrument spending every non-school moment in his room listening on the radio to the burgeoning sounds of mid–1950s rock 'n' roll and copying it on his instrument. The guitar became Spector's entree into school society with class - mates impressed by his ability to mimic the rock performers of the day. Marshall Lieb, a handsome and popular teen at Spector's school, befriended Spector and both began taking guitar lessons. The musical life of Phil Spector, however, can be said to have begun on his fifteenth birthday when his mother took him to see Ella Fitzgerald in concert in Hollywood. In the jazz great's group that night was Barney Kessel, a highly respected and in demand L.A. session guitarist, who floored the teenager. Spector collected every record Kessel appeared on and idolized the guitarist to the point he wrote Down Beat a letter praising the musician. Spector's sister, Shirley, contacted Kessel, in - formed him her brother had written the laudatory letter to the jazz magazine, and set up a meeting between them in November 1956. The awe-struck teen hung on Kessel's every word especially his career advice to get in on the ground floor of rock 'n' roll as a songwriter or producer, both professions that had longer shelf lives than performing. Kessel took the 16 year old under his wing teaching the already accomplished Spector even more about the instrument. At school, Spector and Lieb joined the social club and with others formed a doo-wop group that played frat parties and was good enough to win a talent competition sponsored by television station KTLA. Spector graduated high school in 1957, but never forgot or forgave the imagined or real indignities he suffered there. A decade later (and now the most successful record producer in America), Spector attended his high school reunion accompanied by two bodyguards with instructions not to let anyone approach him. Certain that his career lay in music, Spector nevertheless gave into his mother's demand that he have a fall back career as a court stenographer. Marshall Lieb and Spector enrolled in Los Angeles City College in the fall of 1957, but neither man took their respective studies seriously. In the fall of 1958, Spector took some songs he had written in to Gold Star, a small recording studio in West Hollywood where Eddie Cochran had laid down his rock 'n' roll masterpiece, "Summertime Blues." Spector, with Lieb and friend Annette Kleinbard, pulled together $40 for a two-hour recording session and as the Teddy Bears (a name inspired by the Elvis Presley hit) began laying down tracks good enough to get them a contract with a small independent label, Era Records, in July 1958. Under the terms of the contract, the Teddy Bears divided one cent between them for every copy sold with Spector earning slightly more as the songwriter and copyright holder. In the cramped Gold Star studio Spector was in his element alternately arranging material, placing microphone stands, and explaining to Lieb and Kleinbard exactly the sound he wanted. Originally intended as a "Bside" to "Don't You Worry Little Pet," Spector's composition "To Know Him Is to Love Him" was cut in one hour for $100 in mid–July 1958. Unknown to his group-mates in the Teddy Bears the song was inspired by the epitaph on his father's tombstone. By the final week of September 1958, the song was stuck at Number 88 on the Billboard chart until Lew Bedell, owner of Era Records, called his friend Dick Clark, the former Philadelphia disc jockey turned popular host of the teen dance television show, American Bandstand. Regularly played by Clark on the show, "To Know Him Is to Love Him" shot up the charts reaching Number 4 in late October 1958. On November 22, 1958, the Teddy Bears performed their hit single on American Bandstand launching the tune to the top of the chart, a spot it would occupy for three weeks. In Britain (a country, perhaps, more appreciative of Spector's talents than America), the single climbed to Number 2. Before dropping off the charts four months later, "To Know Him Is to Love Him" sold nearly 1.4 million copies and forever ended any future career Spector might have had as a court stenographer. Success changed Spector. Already a high energy combination of insecurities, overwhelming confidence, charisma, and Napoleonic ego, the 17- year-old now took firm control of the group and his future. He immediately dropped his old label for a better contract and royalty rates (3 cents a single) at Imperial Records, an L.A.–based R&B company that boasted a roster of talent that included Fats Domino and Ricky Nelson. Under relentless pressure from his mother, Bertha, Spector reluctantly agreed in January 1959 to let his sister Shirley manage the Teddy Bears. It was on a tour of one nighters and sock hops in towns along the Eastern seaboard that an incident allegedly occurred that became a pillar in the Phil Spector mythology. After a performance one evening, thugs followed the diminutive guitaristsinger into the men's room where they held him down and urinated on him. Though perhaps apocryphal, the incident would explain Spector's almost obsessive need for bodyguards later in his life. On the road, Spector and Shirley argued constantly with most of the woman's venomous attacks directed at Teddy Bears singer Anne Kleinbard. After a single and a 1959 LP, The Teddy Bears Sing, flopped Lieb and Kleinbard refused to sign a contract that formally named Shirley Spector as the manager of the Teddy Bears. The group died, leaving Spector an open field to pursue his dream of producing hit rock 'n' roll records. In spring 1959, Lester Sill, sales manager of L.A. R&B label, Modern Records, contracted the 20 year old as a songwriter and producer. Sill, the man credited with discovering songwriting greats Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, had observed Spector in the studio producing the Teddy Bears and liked what he saw. Over the next months, Sill became Spector's mentor even allowing the aspiring producer to move in with his family to escape the withering arguments with mother Bertha. Lynn Castle, Spector's girlfriend at the time, later reported that Spector's mother disliked any woman who tried to get close to her son. More ominously, Castle experienced with the young Spector a dysfunctional pattern with women he repeatedly played out in later relationships. Overly possessive and controlling to the point of near stalking, Spector's obsessive behavior prompted Castle to call it quits and walk away. In the spring of 1960, Spector convinced Sill to send him to New York, then the capital of the pop music industry, to learn the business from Leiber and Stoller whose songwriting collaborations for Atlantic Records had yielded such hits as "Hound Dog," "There Goes My Baby," "Charlie Brown," as well as many other hits for groups like the Coasters and the Drifters. Although the songwriters regarded the new arrival as "strange," both were impressed by the 20 year old's obvious talent and signed him to a two-year deal with their company, Trio Music. Spector used his apprenticeship under Leiber and Stoller to absorb standard recording techniques and make powerful connections within the pop music industry. He produced the Ray Peterson song "Corinna, Corinna" which peaked at Number 9 on the charts in November 1960, and followed up his success by writing "Spanish Harlem" with Leiber and Stoller for former Drifters front man Ben E. King. The track peaked at Number 10 in January 1961. Near the end of 1960, Spector met Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder of Atlantic Records, who was so impressed with the 21 year old that he offered him a job as his personal assistant and staff producer at the R&B label. Leiber and Stoller felt understandably betrayed by Spector's lack of loyalty to them, but were unable to block his departure when informed by the producer that his contract with Trio Music was invalid-he was underaged when he signed it. The brash producer was un - liked by colleagues at Atlantic and his brief tenure there failed to produce any hits. The Atlantic experience, however, did provide Spector with the opportunity to further develop his signature sound by the use of echo and the radical place - ment of microphones in the studio. Of note, Spec tor began seeing a psychiatrist in 1960 and continued to do so for the rest of his life. Realizing he was not a great songwriter and needed strong material to perform his magic in the studio, Spector sought out Don Kirshner, president of New York City–based Aldon Music, and a man re - nowned in the industry as possessing an ear that could immediately determine if a song had hit potential. Although Kirshner found the dictatorial producer odd, he recognized talent when he saw it. Underwritten by Kirshner and given access to the company's songwriters, Spector entered the studio in mid–1961 with the Paris Sisters and produced the heavily string laden hit, "I Love How You Love Me." The single entered the charts in October 1961 and shot to Number 5. The Kirshner- Spector relationship was already finished, however, hastened by the producer's unwilling - ness to recognize any authority but his own. Spector needed to be his own boss to fully realize his vision in the studio and when the opportunity to be independent presented itself in early 1961 he was ready to make a bold career move. As partners, Phil Spector and Lester Sill formed Philles ("Phil" and "Les") Records, a label that gave the producer complete artistic control over his music. Spector, already acknowledged in the industry as the king of the girl group, stole The Crystals away from another label and in late 1962 had them in Gold Star studio recording the Gene Pitney composition, "He's a Rebel." Among the first records to feature Spector's "Wall of Sound," the 23-year-old employed two guitarists, two bass players, and numerous other "shadow" instruments playing the same lines hour after hour in the studio until the sound was just right. The single charted Number 1 in November 1962. Suspicious that his partner was holding out on royalties, Spector bought out Sill for $60,000 in the sum - mer of 1962. Spector now had total control over the label and its master recordings. Assembling a core of 25 musicians known as the "Wrecking Crew," Spector continued to refine his signature recording style grounded in the idea that multiple instruments played in unison when combined with the creative placement of microphones in the studio would create a "Wall of Sound" ideal for the "teen symphonies" he was creating with acts like Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and Darlene Love. In 1963, back-to-back hits with The Crystals ("Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me") solidified Spector's position as the most successful rock 'n' roll producer in the United States. The records also made him a multimillionaire. On February 18, 1963, Spector married high school friend Annette Merar in New York City, but the marriage was doomed from the outset. A workaholic, Spector flew back to Los Angeles the day after the wedding to persuade an all-girl black trio, The Ronettes, to sign with Philles Records. The group signed in March 1963 and by late July 1963 Spector had them in the studio recording "Be My Baby," a song he had co-written. The attraction between producer and Veronica ("Ronnie") Bennett, the curvaceous lead singer for The Ronettes, was immediate and reciprocal. Spector liked being seen with the sexy singer while Ronnie, at some level, undoubtedly saw the influential producer as a way to further a solo career. "Be My Baby" rocketed to Number 2 on the charts, but in spite of his obsession with his new lover, Spector was unable to produce another Top Ten hit with the group. In January 1964, he traveled to Britain to finalize a deal with Decca to release his Philles product. The Beatles were in the process of revolutionizing rock music and, with Bob Dylan, would herald in a new musical era in which performers able to write their own music would replace professional songwriters and redefine the producer's role in the studio from that of autocrat to collaborator. During his stay in Britain, Spector spent time with the Beatles while The Ronettes toured with the Rolling Stones. John Lennon venerated Spector's music and the two men became close friends. The producer was on the Pan Am flight from Heathrow with the Beatles that touched down at JFK Airport in New York on February 7, 1964, a date that signaled the "official" launching of the "British Invasion" in American rock 'n' roll. Back in America, Spector attempted unsuccessfully to reconcile with neglected wife Annette Merar (fuming over his affair with Ronnie Bennett) while trying to produce a record that could challenge the Beatles' monumental single "I Want to Hold Your Hand." In October 1964, Spector went into Gold Star studio with the Righteous Brothers, baritone Bill Medley and tenor Bobby Hatfield, to record the single, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." The duo offered the producer a way to break loose of the girl group rut of The Crystals and The Ronettes while presenting two white men who would be easier to market on radio and television. Spector gave the song (which featured Medley's near solo performance) the complete "Wall of Sound" treatment letting the emotion grow over the song's "official" label time of three minutes and sixteen seconds (it is longer) rather than limiting himself to the industry standard pop tune length of 2:30. Considered by most critics to be the pinnacle of Spector's career as a producer, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" was released in December 1964 and was Number 1 by Christmas. To date, it remains the most played song in the history of American radio. Spector produced two other Top Ten Hits for the blueeyed soul duo ("Just Once in My Life" and "Unchained Melody") before an acrimonious breakup sent Medley and Hatfield to MGM. Heralded as the "Tycoon of Teen," Spector was nevertheless musically living on borrowed time ... and he knew it. Rubber Soul, the Beatles December 1965 album, ushered in the rise of the LP over the single while the L.A. music scene was being dominated by performing bands like the Byrds who either covered Dylan songs or wrote their own socially conscious material. As 1965 was ending, Merar divorced her wandering husband, who responded by purchasing a 21 room mansion at 1200 La Collina Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills and setting up house with Ronnie Bennett. Painfully aware of the forces of change within the music industry he felt were marginalizing his hard won importance, the 26-year-old record company owner looked to prove his relevancy with a work of undeniable brilliance that would reaffirm his premier standing. In the autumn of 1965, Spector saw Ike and Tina Turner perform and was mesmerized by the woman's incredible voice and feral sexuality. In late 1965, Spector presented the Turners with a simple proposition- he would give them a Number 1 record, but only if Ike was in no way involved in the production. Ike Turner willingly agreed, but only after en - suring his name would appear on the record. During the first weeks of 1966, Spector and Tina Turner entered the studio to create the producer's magnum opus, the single "River Deep–Mountain High," over a marathon five sessions that cost $22,000 to complete. The overproduced single was released on May 14, 1966, stalled at Number 88, and was gone from the charts in five weeks. In Britain, however, the song was a hit peaking at Number 2. Feeling betrayed by the American public, Spector took out ads in the trades which read, "Benedict Arnold Was Right." He closed Philles Records in 1967 and after appearing in a small role as a drug dealer in Easy Rider (1968) retreated behind the walls of his Beverly Hills mansion to live in near seclusion with his bodyguards, servants, and Ronnie Bennett. On April 14, 1968, Phil Spector married Ronnie in a small ceremony in Beverly Hills City Hall. According to Ronnie in her book, Be My Baby, living with the troubled record producer was sheer hell. Spector slept all day and spent nights alone in his locked study, or, in endlessly watching the film, Citizen Kane. Ronnie soon felt like a prisoner in the mansion with her every moved monitored by intercoms her husband had installed in every room. Four months after the wedding, she filed for divorce but withdrew the petition. Bored, frustrated, and no longer performing, Mrs. Spector began drinking more heavily and took to hiding booze in the house. After watching a television program on adoption, Ronnie decided to adopt a child she named Donte Phillip Spector. Husband Phil was initially a doting father, but soon lost interest. In February 1969, he tossed Ronnie a professional bone and recorded the single "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered," released under the name of The Ronettes, Featuring the Voice of Veronica. When the single tanked Ronnie's depression deepened and she drank more. Terrified by the Manson Family murders in August 1969 (see entry Sharon Tate), Spector became even more security conscious and ordered the installation of barbed wire fences and attack dogs on the mansion property. Ronnie, in her perpetually drunken state, viewed her husband's safety precautions as just another expression of control over her not much different than ordering her to hide upstairs out of sight whenever company visited. In an ill-conceived ploy to bind Ronnie even more closely to him, Spector adopted two six-year-old twins, Gary and Louis, without bothering to inform his wife. As Ronnie descended into alcoholism, even welcoming her weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a way to escape the mansion if only for an afternoon, Spector's own out of control drinking resulted in bizarre and embarrassing public incidents. In January 1972, Spector was arrested at a club in L.A. for pointing a gun at a woman. He was cited for "conspicuous carelessness," fined $200, placed on one year probation, and ordered not to possess any dangerous weapons. Following a brutal physical confrontation in the mansion with her drunken husband, Ronnie filed for divorce on June 12, 1972. The marriage was dissolved in 1974 with Ronnie walking away with only $50,000 in community property, no interests in any of Spector's businesses, and $2,500 a month spousal support for three years. Spector was awarded sole custody of the three children. During the years his marriage to Ronnie was tortuously unravelling Spector periodically tried to revive his career as a major record producer. In January 1969, John Lennon invited him to Lon - don to take over production of a rough collection of Beatles songs tentatively titled "Get Back" that would become the group's final album, Let It Be. Lennon and McCartney were in the middle of a bitter band-killing feud and could agree on nothing. Lennon and Harrison, both huge fans of Spector and the "Wall of Sound," were pro–Spector while McCartney disliked the producer and his music. Ringo was willing to support anyone who could finish the album and get him out of the studio. Although McCartney was furious over Spector's flowery arrangement of his composition "The Long and Winding Road," the critically panned song (the Beatles' last single) sold 1.2 million units in two days. Let It Be was awarded a Grammy. Impressed by Spector's work on the album, George Harrison asked him to produce his first solo album, the two record All Things Must Pass. At the sessions from May to August 1970, Spector filled the Abbey Road studio with three drummers (including James Beck Gordon, see entry), four pianos, and four guitars in an attempt to recreate the "Wall of Sound." Harrison, weary of the endless takes, quickly angered Spec - tor by showing signs of boredom with the production. The producer began drinking and his behavior fluctuated wildly between kindness and anger. Often drunk in the control room, Spector left England in August 1970 after laying down the basic tracks. Released in November 1970, All Things Must Pass was hailed as a critical masterpiece rising to Number 4 in Britain and spending seven weeks at Number 1 in America. The Spector- produced single "My Sweet Lord" charted Number 1 in both countries, the first single by an ex–Beatle to earn that distinction. In December 1970, Spector signed with close friend John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, to produce their album, John Lennon-Plastic Ono Band. Largely on the strength of the hit single "Instant Karma," the LP rose to Number 6 on the Billboard chart. In mid–1971, Spector produced Lennon's classic Imagine album and the anthemic single of the same title. "Imagine" shot to Number 3 on the U.S. chart and is universally acknowledged as the masterpiece of John Lennon's post– Beatles career. Spector and Lennon reunited in 1973 to produce an album of rock standards designed to get the ex–Beatle back to some semblance of financial solvency. Separated from Yoko Ono and living a life of drunken dissolution in Los Angeles, John Lennon was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. While in the studio record - ing the album Rock 'n' Roll the mood quickly turned sour. Both men were binge drinkers and the tension in the sessions as hour after unproductive hour passed was palpable. Spector took to wearing a shoulder holster and once acciden - tally fired his gun while waving it in Lennon's direction to make a point. The record and their friendship ended bitterly when Spector, who had paid for the sessions, left with the master tapes and refused to return them to Lennon or the record company. Ultimately, federal marshalls were called in to retrieve the hostage tapes. Released in 1975, the album was unmemorable. Spector's only other musical collaborations of note were with Canadian poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen in 1978 (Death of a Ladies' Man) and with the New York punk rock band The Ramones in 1979–1980 (End of the Century). While recording with Cohen, the drunken producer pressed a gun into the singer's neck and threatened to pull the trigger. The Ramones, worn out by Spector's endless retakes, never again worked with him. The murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1990, deeply affected Phil Spector. He briefly stopped drinking and married girlfriend Janis Zavala in 1982 after she gave birth to twins. A devoted husband and family man, Spector was living comfortably on the income generated by the selective licensing of his classic catalog to motion pictures. In 1986, he moved out of the mansion in Beverly Hills and into another heavily fortified estate in Pasadena. Three years later, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the "nonperformer" category. At the induction ceremony in New York City, Spector was so drunk he could barely ramble through an incoherent acceptance speech prior to being ushered off-stage. On December 25, 1991, Phil Spector suffered an emotional shock from which he never fully recovered. The death by leukemia of his nine-year-old son with Zavala, Phillip, Jr., effectively curtailed the 52-year-old's public life. Zavala and Spector had separated shortly before the boy's death leaving the former producer who had not made a record in over a decade alone in the mansion with only alcohol, prescription antidepressants, ser - vants, and a bodyguard as company. The next decade was spent in momentary involvements in projects that never reached fruition, drinking, and being periodically honored by an industry who while recognizing his status as a legend, nevertheless now viewed him as an out-of-step eccentric who liked to wave guns around. Lana Jean Clarkson, born in Long Beach, California, on April 5, 1962, was only six months old when Spector produced the Number 1 hit "He's a Rebel" for the Ronettes. An excellent athlete, Clarkson played basketball in high school and soon after the family moved to the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles the beautiful 6' blonde and buxom 16 year old was booking modeling shoots in Japan, Switzerland, France, and Mexico. Small parts in several television shows (CHiPs, Laverne and Shirley, Hill Street Blues, Fantasy Island ) led to her first speaking role in director Cameron Crowe's 1981 teenage comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The 18 year old played the improbably beautiful wife of "Mr. Vargas," the school's nerdy science teacher, and spoke one line, "Hi." In Brainstorm, the 1983 science fiction movie that marked Natalie Wood's last screen appearance, Clarkson played the uncredited "Food Fantasy Girl." That same year the beautiful Hollywood newcomer also appeared in the Al Pacino vehicle, Scarface, as one of the dancers in the Babylon Club. Clarkson's movie career, however, did not ignite until 1985 when B-movie director Roger Corman (impressed by her in a small role in his 1983 film, Deathstalker) cast her as the lead, "Amathea," in his 1985 sword-and-sorcery epic, Barbarian Queen. The low-budget campy film allowed Clarkson to display her athleticism as well as her semi-nude body splayed across a rack in the film's memorable torture scene. The movie, said to have inspired the Lucy Lawless television series, Xena: The Warrior Princess, made Clarkson a "star" in the insular fan world of the genre and a staple at fantasy film conventions and comic book shows. Following an appearance as the stacked alien, "Alpha Beta," in Amazon Women on the Moon (1987), Clarkson returned to the genre which had made her famous with two 1989 featured roles as a scantily clad swordswoman in Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back ("Amathea") and Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II ("Athalia"). The 1990 exploitation film, The Haunting of Morella, in which Clarkson portrayed an evil governess with lesbian overtones, marked the downward arc of her acting career. Over the next decade, the beautiful, but aging, actress appeared on several television shows (Silk Stalkings, Land's End), worked as a print and commercial model for Mercedes-Benz, Kmart, Playtex, and had roles in the motion pictures Love in Paris (1997), Vice Girls (2000), and the 2001 independent film, March. In December 2002, the 40-yearold actress needed a job that would help both pay the rent and keep her at least nominally in the eye of key Hollywood players. Around Christmas, Clarkson became the hostess in the Foundation (VIP) Room at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard across from the Chateau Marmont hotel. Membership in the VIP lounge cost $1,000 a year and the venue was recognized as a favored watering hole for music and film industry bigwigs. Phil Spector, a member of the Foundation Room, entered the VIP lounge with friend, Kathy Sullivan, at 1:30 A.M. on February 3, 2003. The 63-year-old record producer with Sullivan in tow had spent the early part of the evening drinking at places like Trader Vic's and Dan Tana's restaurant. By the time Spector arrived at the Foundation Room it was estimated he had imbibed four daiquiris and two Navy Grogs all containing liberal shots of rum. According to a later state - ment made by his limousine driver, Adriano De Souza, Spector was already slurring his words as he walked in the House of Blues. At the lounge, Spector ordered a straight shot of rum and became incensed when Sullivan opted for water. Spector called hostess Lana Clarkson over to the table and ordered her to take Sullivan to the limousine with instructions for De Souza to drive the woman home then return for him. The record producer and the actress spoke together for some time while waiting for the limo driver to return without Kathy Sullivan. Clarkson clocked out at 2:21 A.M. and escorted the producer to the waiting 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud after he left a $450 tip for an $8.50 rum and a $5 water. Spector asked Clarkson to go home with him, she refused, but did accept his invitation to drive her to her car. En route, he repeatedly pressed the invitation until the worn down actress agreed to accompany him to the 33-room mansion he had purchased in 1998, the Pyrenees Castle, atop a hill in suburban Alhambra, a working class neighborhood east of Los Angeles. The limo arrived at the heav - ily fortified mansion at around 3:45 A.M. De Souza let the couple out at the bottom of the hill and together they walked up a flight of stone steps to the castle's front door while he drove the car up the hill and parked it in the roundabout near the back door. De Souza was waiting in the Rolls to return Clarkson to her car in Hollywood when Spector emerged from the back door 15 minutes later and retrieved a DVD player from the backseat of the vehicle. Sometime before 5:00 A.M., De Souza heard a gunshot (he told police "a popping noise") and exited the limo to investigate. Spector emerged from the mansion's back door carrying a revolver with a blood smear across the back of his hand. "I think I killed somebody," the dazed producer told De Souza. Looking past Spec - tor into the hallway, De Souza could see the blonde actress slumped in a chair, her face awash with blood. Shaken, the driver tried to call 911 on his cell phone, but failing, left the message, "You have to come here. I think Mr. Spector killed somebody," on the answering machine of Michelle Blaine, the producer's personal assistant. Shortly after 5:00 A.M., police responded to De Souza's repeated 911 call, forced open the iron gates at 1700 Grandview, and cautiously approached the Pyrenees Castle. Spector let the officers into the house, but after refusing their numerous requests to remove his hands from his pockets, was Tasered at least three times (none of shocks appeared to work). The 5'5" record producer was wrestled to the floor and handcuffed. Clarkson, dead from a single gunshot wound to the face, was slumped in a chair, her broken teeth scattered across the foyer. A blood spattered unregistered .38-caliber Colt six-shot revolver with one spent cartridge was found under the woman's left leg. In a conversation taped at the scene, Spector told officers "the gun went off accidentally" and that he was "just gonna go to sleep." A search of the mansion yielded an additional 13 guns and ammunition identical to that in the gun which had killed the actress. Lana Clarkson was pronounced dead at 6:24 A.M. A toxicology test by the coroner's office revealed her blood alcohol level was .12 percent and she had "therapeutic levels" of Vicodin in her system. A verbally abusive and seemingly inebriated Phil Spector was booked into the Alhambra police station around 6:28 A.M. A urine test taken 13 hours after the shooting registered his blood alcohol level at .08 percent, the legal floor for intoxication in California. During his subsequent interrogation, Spector told detectives Clarkson had taken the gun in her hand, put it to her head, and pulled the trigger. At 7:00 P.M. that day, Spector's attorney, Robert Shapiro O.J. Simpson entry), freed his client on $1 million bail. As Shapiro assembled a forensics dream team to prove Clarkson had committed suicide, Spector (no doubt on the advice of counsel) went on the offensive to argue his innocence in the media. First in Esquire ( July 2003) and then in Vanity Fair, the producer maintained that a drunken Clarkson produced a firearm and "kissed the gun" before firing the fatal shot into her mouth. Sevenand- a-half months after the shooting, the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled Clarkson's death a homicide, and Spector was formally charged with her murder on November 20, 2003. If convicted of murder with the use of a firearm (a sentence enhancement), Spector faced the possibility of spending a minimum 15 years in a California penitentiary. In January 2004, the producer fired Robert Shapiro claiming that under the guise of friendship the attorney lined his pockets with over $1 million in non-returnable fees. Shortly afterwards, he hired celebrity attorney Leslie Abram son, a woman well-known for her aggres - sive cross-examination and powers of persuasion. Abramson lasted less than eight months before abruptly resigning. Bruce Cutler, best known for his successful defenses of Mafia crime boss, John Gotti, was her replacement. In 2005 as a trial date was still in the distant future, Spector met Ra - chelle ("Chelle") Short, a songwriter-enter tainer 40 years his junior, and the couple married in a ceremony conducted in September 2006 in the foyer where Clarkson was killed. On April 25, 2007, more than four years after the death of Lana Clarkson, Phil Spector went on trial resplendent in a revolving wardrobe of Edwardian suits and a parade of outlandish wigs. Cutler, whose role in the defense dwindled over the course of the trial, attacked the English language skills of Brazilian-born driver Adriano De Souza maintaining Spector had not told the man he had "killed somebody." Describing De Souza as an illegal alien who was "taking a siesta" at the time of Clarkson's suicide, the defense team questioned the meaning of the driver's statements to police. More difficult to overcome, however, were statements made by five women who all testified they had endured physically intimidating "gun dates" with Spector. With each, the producer had brandished a gun at them when they asked to leave his company. Spector's high power and expensive forensics team headed by Drs. Henry Lee and Michael Baden argued the blood spray and dispersal of teeth fragments in the mansion's foyer was consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, not a murder. In a bid to portray the struggling actress as a self-deluded hanger-on in Hollywood, the defense played "Lana Unleashed," a portfolio videotape Clarkson had made to showcase her talents to would-be employers. The argument fell flat. Witness after witness stepped forward to insist Clarkson was not depressed at the time of her death, but looked forward to the future. As the evidentiary phase of the trial wound down, Bruce Cutler announced in September 2007 that he was leaving the defense team. Remarkably, a mistrial was declared on September 26, 2007, after the jury hopelessly deadlocked on a 10–2 vote to convict the record producer of second-degree murder. On October 29, 2008, the 69-year-old Spector again found himself in a Los Angeles courtroom to be judged by a six-man, six-woman jury. Gone were his team of five lawyers from the first trial and in their stead was attorney Doron Weinberg. Also largely absent in the early days of the proceedings was the mainstream media that had turned the first trial into a circus. Weinberg faced the unenviable task of discounting the damning testimony of the five women who stepped forward to describe in excruciating detail their "gun dates" with the eccentric musical genius. In the end, all he could do was attack De Souza's English, try to raise doubt as to the interpretation and validity of the forensic evidence, and to assassinate the character of the victim as a failed actress who chose to take her own life in a stranger's mansion in a moment of drunkenness. Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson derided Spector's defense experts as "hired guns" whose testimony had cost $419,000 all in an attempt to prove a depressed Clarkson committed suicide. On the morning of the day before she died, the actress purchased eight pairs of shoes and responded, "I can't wait," to a party invitation. More compelling, perhaps, was Deputy District Attorney Truc Do's assessment of Phil Spector's pattern of behavior with women as devastatingly portrayed by the earlier testimony. Ultimately, Do argued, "This case is about a man who has had a history of playing Russian roulette with the lives of women. Five women got the empty chamber. Lana got the sixth bullet." Six years and two months after Clarkson's death, the jury deliberated 30 hours prior to finding Spector guilty on April 13, 2003, of second-degree murder with the use of a firearm. On May 29, 2009, the 69-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer received a mandatory life sentence of which he must serve 19 years before becoming eligible for parole. His bail application denied, Spector was taken immediately into custody as Doron Weinberg vowed an appeal based largely on his contention that the testimony of his client's five "gun dates" should never have been admitted into evidence. The record producer still faces a "wrongful death" civil suit filed in January 2005 by Donna Clarkson, mother of the slain actress. At the time of this book's publication, Phil Spector is housed in the "sensitive-needs yard" at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran. Wife Rachelle Spector, 29, manages the producer's vast catalog and steadfastly maintains her husband's innocence.