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Harvey Philip SPECTOR






A.K.A.: Phil Spector
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: American record producer and songwriter
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 3, 2003
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: December 26, 1939
Victim profile: Lana Jean Clarkson, 40 (actress and fashion model)
Method of murder: Shooting (.38 Colt revolver)
Location: Alhambra, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Status: First trial ended in mistrial on September 26, 2007. In a second trial sentenced to 19 years to life in prison on May 29, 2009

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murder trial 1

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phil spector before the fall

phil spector on trial


transcript of phil spector's statement to police


transcript of phil spector's stationhouse statement to police


Phil Spector convicted of murder

BBC News

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

US music producer Phil Spector has been convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson, after a five-month retrial.

The 68-year-old, famous for the "Wall of Sound" recording technique, faces between 18 years and life in prison.

He had pleaded not guilty to the second degree murder of 40-year-old Ms Clarkson, who was shot in the mouth at Spector's home in Los Angeles.

Spector was remanded in custody until sentencing on 29 May. His lawyer has said he intends to appeal.

"I don't think justice was done today," said lawyer Doron Weinberg.

Spector had looked frail as he entered the Los Angeles Superior Court, dressed in a black suit with a bright red tie.

The jury took some 30 hours of deliberation to reach their unanimous guilty verdict.

As the verdict was read out, Spector remained quiet and his wife Rachelle sobbed.

'Legal errors'

The jury had the option of returning a verdict of involuntary manslaughter, but chose not do so.

An earlier trial was abandoned in 2007 after a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision.

Second degree murder falls between first degree murder, which requires proof of pre-meditation, and manslaughter.

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Weinberg congratulated the jury on "trying to do the best honest job they could" with "complete integrity and complete honesty".

But he said the jurors had been flooded with "improper and prejudicial evidence" which made it impossible for them to reach a fair conclusion.

He said he was "very, very certain" that Spector had not been proved guilty "under the proper legal standard".

Mr Weinberg said "the nature of the legal errors" made in the trial were "so significant and so clear that there is every likelihood that this case will be set aside on appeal".

One of the jurors, speaking at a news conference after the trial, said the jury had a "complete picture" from the evidence.

The unnamed woman said they had "gone through all the information and that's what the conclusion was".

Prolific career

Phil Spector worked with some of the biggest names in the pop and rock business, including The Beatles and Ike and Tina Turner.

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

But for all his musical genius, Spector had a dark side.

He was often described as being a bully in the studio, a man with a liking for guns and an eccentric personality.

During the five-month retrial, five female acquaintances testified that Spector had threatened them at gunpoint in incidents dating back to the 1970s.

Mr Weinberg had argued that the evidence from the women should not have been admitted.

The defence said Ms Clarkson's death was a suicide and appealed to jurors not to judge the star on his eccentric appearance.

Spector himself opted not to give evidence.

Stun gun

Actress Clarkson, 40, had been working as a hostess at the House of Blues venue in Los Angeles, and went home with Spector on the night of her death.

After appearing in cult 1980s films such as Barbarian Queen and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, her acting career had hit the rocks.

Spector had arrived at the club with waitress Kathy Sullivan, before setting his sights on Ms Clarkson.

Spector's Brazilian chauffeur, Adriano De Souza, said his boss appeared to be intoxicated and that Ms Clarkson was initially reluctant to go home with the music producer.

She was found dead in the foyer of his house in the early hours of the morning.

A holster that matched the snub-nosed Colt Cobra revolver that Spector used to kill her was found in a drawer in the foyer.

Mr De Souza called the emergency services, saying: "I think my boss killed somebody", after Spector emerged from his home with a gun.

He told jurors Spector had said: "I think I killed somebody." The defence argued he had misheard his employer.

The producer was taken into custody about 40 minutes after the shooting and had to be subdued by officers using a stun gun.


Harvey Phillip Spector (born December 26, 1939) is an American record producer and songwriter whose fame reached its height in the early 1960s.

The originator of the "Wall of Sound" production technique, Spector was a pioneer of the 1960s girl group sound and clocked in over twenty-five Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1965. In later years he worked with such artists as Ike and Tina Turner, John Lennon, George Harrison and the Ramones with similar success, including production work on the Academy Award winning Let It Be and Grammy Award winning Concert for Bangladesh soundtracks. In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer.

The 1965 song "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", produced and co-written by Spector for the The Righteous Brothers, is listed by BMI as the song with the most U.S. air play in the 20th century.

The 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California home led to his being charged with murder in the second degree. His first trial ended in a mistrial; his second trial resulted in a conviction of second degree murder on April 13, 2009.

Early life

Spector was born into a Jewish family in the Bronx, New York. Following his father's death by suicide in 1949, Spector and his mother and sister moved to Los Angeles, California in 1953, where he became involved with music, learning the guitar.

At 16, he performed Leadbelly's "Rock Island Line" at a talent show at Fairfax High School. While there at Fairfax, he joined a loosely knit community of young aspirants, including Lou Adler, Bruce Johnston, and Sandy Nelson, the last of whom played drums on Spector's first record release, "To Know Him Is To Love Him."

The Teddy Bears

With three friends from high school, Marshall Lieb, Harvey Goldstein, and singer Annette Kleinbard, Spector formed a group, the Teddy Bears. During this period Spector also began hanging out at local recording studios, and he eventually managed to win the confidence of Stan Ross, co-owner of Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, who began to tutor the young man in record production and who exerted a major influence on Spector's production style.

By the spring of 1958 Spector and his bandmates had raised enough money to buy two hours of recording time at Gold Star. With Spector producing, the Teddy Bears recorded the Spector-penned "Don't You Worry My Little Pet," which helped them secure a deal with Era Records.

At their next session, they recorded another song Spector had written -- this one inspired by the epitaph on Spector's father's tombstone. Released on Era's subsidiary label, Dore Records, "To Know Him Is to Love Him" went to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, selling over a million copies by year's end.

Following the success of their debut, the group signed with Imperial Records, but their next single, "I Don't Need You Anymore," only reached #91. While several more recordings were released (including an album The Teddy Bears Sing!), the group never again charted in the Hot 100. The Teddy Bears went their separate ways in 1959.

Record producer

After the split, Spector's career quickly moved from performing and songwriting to production. While recording the Teddy Bears' album, Spector had met Lester Sill, a former promotion man who was a mentor to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

His next project, the Spectors Three, was undertaken under the aegis of Sill and his partner Lee Hazlewood. Though it reaped little commercial reward, Sill in 1960 arranged for Spector to work as an apprentice to Leiber and Stoller in New York.

Having perfect pitch, Spector quickly learned how to use a studio. He co-wrote the Ben E. King Top 10 hit "Spanish Harlem" with Jerry Leiber and also worked as a session musician, most notably playing the guitar solo on the Drifters' "On Broadway."

His own productions during this time, while less conspicuous, included releases by LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, and Billy Storm, as well as the Top Notes' original version of "Twist and Shout."

Leiber and Stoller recommended Spector to produce Ray Peterson's "Corrina, Corrina," which reached #9 in January 1961. Later he produced another major hit for Curtis Lee, "Pretty Little Angel Eyes," which made it to #7.

Returning to Hollywood, Spector agreed to produce one of Lester Sill's acts. After both Liberty Records and Capitol Records turned down the master of "Be My Boy" by the Paris Sisters, Sill formed a new label, Gregmark Records, with Lee Hazlewood and released it. It only managed to reach #56, but the follow-up, "I Love How You Love Me," was a smash, reaching #5.

Philles Records

In the fall of 1961 Spector formed a new record company with Lester Sill, who by this time had ended his business partnership with Hazlewood. Philles Records combined the names of its two founders. Through Hill and Range Publishers, Spector found three groups he wanted to produce: the Ducanes, the Creations and The Crystals.

The first two signed with other companies, but Spector managed to secure the Crystals for his new label. Their first single "There's No Other (Like My Baby)" was a success, hitting #20. Their next release, "Uptown," did even better, making it to #13.

Spector continued to work freelance with other artists. In 1962 he produced "Second Hand Love" by Connie Francis, which reached #7. In the early 60's he briefly worked with Atlantic Records' R & B artists Ruth Brown and LaVerne Baker. Ahmet Ertegün of Atlantic paired Spector with Broadway star Jean DuShon for "Talk to Me", the B-side of which was "Tired of Trying", written by DuShon.

Spector briefly took a job as head of A&R for Liberty Records. It was while working at Liberty that he heard a song written by Gene Pitney, for whom he had produced a #41 hit, "Every Breath I Take" a year earlier. "He's a Rebel" was due to be released on Liberty by Vicki Carr, but Spector rushed into Gold Star Studios and recorded a cover version using Darlene Love on lead vocals. The record was released on Philles, attributed to the Crystals, and quickly rose to the top of the charts.

By the time "He's a Rebel" went to #1, Lester Sill was out of the company, and Spector had Philles all to himself. He created a new act, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, featuring Darlene Love and Bobby Sheen, a singer he had worked with at Liberty. The group had hits with "Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah" (#8), "Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Hearts?" (#38) and "Not Too Young To Get Married" (#63).

Spector also released solo material by Darlene Love in 1963. In the same year, he released "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, which went to #2.

Although predominantly a singles-based label, Philles did release a few albums, one of which was the perennial seller A Christmas Gift for You in 1963.

The Wall of Sound

Spector's trademark during that era was the so-called Wall of Sound, a production technique yielding a dense, layered effect that reproduced well on AM radio and jukeboxes.

To attain this signature sound, Spector gathered large groups of musicians (playing some instruments not generally used for ensemble playing, such as electric and acoustic guitars) playing orchestrated parts — often doubling and tripling many instruments playing in unison — for a fuller sound. Spector himself called his technique "a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids."

While Spector directed the overall sound of his recordings, he took a relatively hands-off approach to working with the musicians themselves (usually a core group that became known as The Wrecking Crew, including session players such as Hal Blaine, Steve Douglas, Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell, and Leon Russell), delegating arrangement duties to Jack Nitzsche and having Sonny Bono oversee the performances, viewing these two as his "lieutenants".

Spector frequently used songs from songwriters employed at the Brill Building, such as the teams of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Spector often worked with the songwriters, receiving co-credit for compositions.

Spector was already known as a temperamental and quirky personality with strong, often unconventional ideas about musical and recording techniques. Despite the trend towards multi-channel recording, Spector was vehemently opposed to stereo releases, claiming that it took control of the record's sound away from the producer in favor of the listener. Spector also greatly preferred singles to albums, describing LPs as "two hits and ten pieces of junk".

The first time Spector put the same amount of effort into an LP as he did into 45s was when he utilized the full Philles roster and the Wrecking Crew to make what he felt would become a hit for the 1963 Christmas season. A Christmas Gift for You arrived in the shops the day of the assassination of President Kennedy, November 22, 1963.

The somber mood of the country may have contributed to the album being a flop in its initial release. Despite its initially poor reception, selections from the album are now Yuletide mainstays on radio stations, and the album has since been a regular seller during the holiday season.

The mid-Sixties

In 1964 the Ronettes appeared at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Also on the bill were The Righteous Brothers. Spector, who was conducting the band for all the acts, was so impressed with Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield that he bought their contract from Moonglow Records and signed them to Philles.

In early 1965, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" became the label's second #1 single. Three more major hits with the group followed: "Just Once in My Life" (#9), "Unchained Melody" (#4) and "Ebb Tide" (#5).

Despite having hits, Spector lost interest in producing the Righteous Brothers and sold their contract and all their master recordings to Verve Records. However, the sound of the Righteous Brothers' singles was so distinctive that the act chose to replicate it after leaving Spector, notching a second #1 hit in 1966 with the Bill Medley-produced "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration".

The Spector-produced recording of "Unchained Melody" had a second wave of popularity 25 years after its initial release, when it was featured prominently in the hit movie Ghost. A re-release of the single recharted on the Billboard Hot 100, and went to number one on the Adult Contemporary charts.

This also put Spector (as a producer) back on the U.S. Top 40 charts for the first time since his last appearance in 1971 with John Lennon's "Imagine", although he did have U.K. top 40 hits between this time with bands like The Ramones.

Spector's final signing to Philles was the husband-and-wife team of Ike and Tina Turner in 1966. Spector considered their recording of "River Deep - Mountain High", to be his best work, but it failed to go any higher than #88 in the United States. The single, which was essentially a solo Tina Turner record, was more successful in Britain, reaching #3.

Spector subsequently lost enthusiasm for his label and the recording industry. Already something of a recluse, he withdrew temporarily from the public eye, marrying Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett, lead singer of the Ronettes, in 1968. Spector emerged briefly for a cameo as a drug dealer in the film Easy Rider in 1969.


In 1969 Spector made a brief return to the music business by signing a production deal with A&M Records. A Ronettes single ("You Came, You Saw, You Conquered") flopped, but Spector returned to the Hot 100 with "Black Pearl" by Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd. Although the record reached #13, the A&M deal was short-lived.

In 1970 Allen Klein, manager of the Beatles, brought Spector to England. While producing John Lennon's hit solo single "Instant Karma!," which went to #3, Spector was invited by Lennon and George Harrison to take on the task of turning the Beatles abandoned "Get Back" recording sessions into a usable album.

Spector went to work using many of his production techniques, making significant changes to the arrangements and sound of some songs. The resulting album, Let It Be, was a massive commercial success and yielded a #1 single, "The Long and Winding Road."

Although viewed as a major creative comeback for Spector, it may also have contributed to the contentious Beatles breakup, as Spector added what many considered inappropriate choir and orchestral arrangements to Lennon's "Across the Universe" and Harrison's "I Me Mine".

His overdubbing of "The Long and Winding Road" infuriated its composer, Paul McCartney, especially since the work was allegedly completed without his knowledge and without any opportunity for him to assess the results. In 2003, McCartney spearheaded the release of Let It Be... Naked, which stripped the songs of Spector's input.

However, both John Lennon and George Harrison were satisfied with the results, and Let It Be led to Spector co-producing albums with both ex-Beatles. For George Harrison's multi-platinum album All Things Must Pass (#1, 1970), Spector provided a cathedral-like sonic ambiance, complete with ornate orchestrations and gospel-like choirs. The LP yielded two major hits: "My Sweet Lord" (#1) and "What Is Life" (#10). That same year, Spector co-produced John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band (#6) album, which featured a very different, spare and raw sound.

In 1971 Spector was named director of A&R for Apple Records. He only held the post for a year, but during that time he co-produced the single "Power To The People" with John Lennon (#11), as well as Lennon's chart-topping Imagine album, including the #3 title track. With George Harrison, Spector co-produced Harrison's "Bangla-Desh" (a #23 hit), Ronnie Spector's "Try Some, Buy Some" (which made it to #77), and the music for the #1 triple album The Concert For Bangla Desh.

Lennon retained Spector for the 1971 Christmas single "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," the poorly-reviewed 1972 album Some Time In New York City (#48) and the 1973 sessions for the album Rock 'n' Roll (#6).

Spector's relationship with Lennon ended during these sessions; some versions claim that the producer suffered a breakdown in the studio, brandishing a gun and disappearing with the Rock 'n' Roll tapes, although Spector biographer Dave Thompson places most of the blame on the out-of-control behavior of Lennon and his entourage. After several months, Lennon retrieved the tapes and finished the album himself.

Later years

In 1974 Spector established the Warner-Spector label which undertook new recordings with Dion, Cher, Harry Nilsson and others, as well as several reissues. A similar relationship with Britain's Polydor Records led to the formation of the Phil Spector International label in 1975.

The majority of Spector's classic Philles recordings had been out of print in the U.S. since the original label's demise, although Spector had released several Philles Records compilations in Britain. Finally, he released an American compilation of his Philles recordings in 1977 which put most of the better known Spector hits back into circulation after many years.

As the seventies progressed, Spector became a recluse. Probably the single most significant reason for his withdrawal -- recently revealed by biographer Dave Thompson -- was that Spector was seriously injured when he was thrown through the windshield of his car in a crash in Hollywood.

According to a contemporary report published in the New Musical Express, Spector was almost killed and it was only because the attending police officer detected a faint pulse that Spector was not declared dead at the scene.

He was admitted to the UCLA Medical Centre on the night of 31 March 1974, suffering serious head injuries which necessitated several hours of surgery with over 300 stitches to his face and more than 400 stitches to the back of his head. His head injuries, Thompson suggests, were the reason that Spector began his habit of wearing outlandish wigs in later years.

Spector began to re-emerge in the late 1970s, producing a controversial album by Leonard Cohen (Death of a Ladies' Man, 1977) and the much-publicised Ramones album End of the Century, 1980. Worked with Yoko Ono in 1981 and co-produced Season of Glass, her first work after her husband's death.

Spector remained inactive throughout most of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. He attempted to work with Céline Dion on her album Falling Into You, but that fell through. His most recent released project has been "Silence Is Easy" by Starsailor, released in 2003. He was originally supposed to produce the entire album, but was fired due to personal and creative differences - however, one of the two Spector produced songs on the album was a U.K. top 10 single.

Plans to work with The Vines were halted due to his murder trial. The latest song to be produced by Spector is a track by singer-songwriter Hargo. The track, Crying For John Lennon originally appears on Hargos 2006 album In Your Eyes, but on a visit to Spectors mansion for an interview for John Lennon tribute movie Strawberry Fields, Hargo played Spector the song and asked him to produce it. Spector and former Paul McCartney drummer Graham Ward produced it in the classic wall of sound style on nights after his murder trial.


Many producers have tried to emulate the Wall of Sound, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys—a fellow adherent of mono recording—considered Spector his main competition as a studio artist. Bruce Springsteen emulated the Wall of Sound technique in his recording of "Born to Run". Shoegazing, a British musical movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was heavily influenced by the Wall of Sound.

For his contributions to the music industry, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #63 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Spector's early musical influences included Latin music in general, and Latin percussion in particular. This is apparent from the percussion in many of his hit songs: shakers, guiros (gourds) and maracas in "Be My Baby" and the son montuno in "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", heard clearly in the song's bridge.

Phil would visit Spanish Harlem clubs and schools to hone his listening and practical skills. He'd ask his pre-teen coffee boy from "El Barrio", Roberto Tirado, to borrow his parent's best Puerto Rican recordings in order to listen to these at odd times.

Unknowingly, Phil instilled some of his musical influence on little Roberto as he also became enmeshed in the music field later as an adult. But the Latin influence is keenly perceptible in many, if not all, of Spector's recordings. Session bassist Carol Kaye plays the haunting son montuno in "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" while the same repeating refrain is played on harpsichord by keyboardist Larry Knechtel.

The Beach Boys paid tribute to Spector in the lyrics of their song "Mona":"Come on/Listen to "Da Doo Ron Ron," now/Listen to "Be My Baby"/I know you're gonna love Phil Spector"

The character of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a 1970 Russ Meyer film, is based upon Phil Spector.


Spector has had many conflicts, sometimes bizarre, with the artists, songwriters and promoters he worked with. Describing the dissolution of their Philles Records partnership, Lester Sill said, "I sold out for a pittance. It was shit, ridiculous, around $60,000. I didn't want to but I had to. Let me tell you, I couldn't live with Phillip . . . I just wanted the fuck out of there. If I wouldn't have, I would have killed him. It wasn't worth the aggravation."

As a peevish farewell gesture, shortly after Lester Sill's departure from Philles Records, Spector wrote, and had The Crystals record, a single entitled "(Let's Dance) The Screw". Six minutes long and completely lacking Spector's customary Wall of Sound production techniques, "The Screw" was neither releasable (by 1963 music industry standards) nor intended for general release.

Indeed, only a handful of copies of the single were pressed, one of which Spector had delivered to Sill as a parting shot at his former partner. (Legend has it that the recording of "The Screw" served a second purpose: to cheat Sill out of royalties due him from sales of the next Philles recording. However, this claim is considered unlikely.) It has also been said that Spector brought one of his own lawyers into the recording studio to yell out the chorus of the song ( "--do the screw!" )

Spector's domineering attitude toward Ronnie Spector led to the dissolution of their marriage. Ronnie Spector has claimed that Spector showed her a gold coffin with a glass top in his basement, promising to kill and display her should she ever choose to leave him; he had earlier forbidden her from speaking to the Rolling Stones or touring with the Beatles for fear of infidelity.

During Spector's reclusive period in the late 1960s, he reportedly kept his wife locked inside their mansion. She claimed he also hid her shoes to dissuade her from walking outside, and kept the house dark because he didn't want anyone to see his balding head. Spector's son later claimed that he was kept locked inside his room, with a pot in the corner to be used as a toilet.

Ronnie Spector did leave the producer and filed for divorce in 1972. She wrote a book about her experiences, and said years later, "I can only say that when I left in the early '70s, I knew that if I didn't leave at that time, I was going to die there."

In 1998, Ronnie Spector and the other Ronettes sued Phil Spector for allegedly cheating them of royalties and licensing fees, winning a $3 million judgment; however, an appeals court later reversed the decision, upholding the terms of the group's 1963 contract as binding.

In 2007, Ronnie Spector discussed her Ronettes' much-delayed entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "He wrote the Hall of Fame to tell them not to put me in. He did everything he could to stop me. He's bitter that I left him. He wants everyone to think he's the mastermind. He thought everything was because of him."

Stories of Phil Spector's gunplay mounted over the years, including his discharging a firearm while in the studio with John Lennon during the recording of his cover album Rock 'n' Roll, placing a loaded pistol at Leonard Cohen's head during the sessions for Death of a Ladies' Man, and forcing Dee Dee Ramone to play bass guitar to Spector's specifications at gunpoint. Cohen told "Rolling Stone" magazine in 1978 that "Phil couldn't resist annihilating me. I don't think he can tolerate any other shadows in his darkness."

The Ramones reportedly had to play the opening chord to the song "Rock and Roll High School" for eight hours straight; Years later, Johnny Ramone described Spector as "a little man with lifts in his shoes, the wig on top of his head and four guns."

But he also described the session philosophically: "It was a positive learning experience. And that chord does sound really good." Marky Ramone said, "A lot of these things were overblown, and a lot of these things were alcohol-induced."

Murder conviction

On February 3, 2003, Spector was arrested on suspicion of murder after the body of 40-year-old nightclub hostess and actress Lana Clarkson of Los Angeles was found at his mansion, Pyrenees Castle, in Alhambra, California.

Police responded to a 9-1-1 phone call from Spector's driver and discovered Clarkson, who had injuries consistent with a gun being placed in her mouth and fired. She was pronounced dead at the scene. On November 20, 2003, Spector was indicted for Clarkson's murder. In September 2004 he was ordered to stand trial in Los Angeles.

Spector has stated that Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide". However, on October 28, 2005, a judge ruled that potentially damning statements Spector allegedly made to police could be used against him at trial. Spector's lawyers had sought to suppress an apparent statement made by Spector after Clarkson was found dead. Spector allegedly said, "I think I killed somebody." His lawyer argued that comments attributed to the music producer should be thrown out because he was suffering from prescription-drug withdrawal symptoms at the time.

Two months before the night of the crime in question, Spector had stated in an interview with the British Daily Telegraph that he had bipolar disorder and that he considered himself "relatively insane". The judge has also ruled that transcripts from a deposition Spector made several months before Clarkson's death could also be introduced by the prosecution at trial.

Prior to and during the trial itself, Spector went through at least three sets of attorneys. Defense attorney Robert Shapiro, an original O.J. Simpson "dream team" member, was first to represent Spector at his arraignment and early pre-trial hearings. Shapiro also arranged for his release on $1 million bail. Spector eventually fired and entered into a civil suit against Shapiro in order to re-claim a $1 million retainer paid to the defense attorney. In December 2005, Spector dropped all claims against Shapiro. Shapiro was replaced by Leslie Abramson and Marcia Morrissey. They, in turn, were later replaced by Bruce Cutler, the former long-time lawyer of New York City mafia boss John Gotti.

Cutler left Spector's defense on August 27, 2007 claiming "a difference of opinion between Mr. Spector and me on strategy." Attorney Linda Kenney Baden then became lead lawyer for closing arguments.

First trial

Spector remained free on $1 million bail while awaiting trial, which had been scheduled to begin on April 24, 2006, but had been postponed several times since then, first to January 16, 2007, then to March 5 and finally to March 19. On February 16, 2007, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler stated that he would allow Spector's trial to be televised, though he also indicated that he would reverse course should the media abuse this access.

Jury selection began Monday, March 19, 2007 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. Three hundred prospective jurors were screened over two days. Those not granted hardship exemptions by Fidler completed 18-page questionnaires including queries as to whether celebrities are entitled to act as they please, and whether police treat celebrities with greater leniency. Voir dire began April 16, 2007. A jury of nine men and three women (along with four male and three female alternate jurors) was sworn in on April 19, 2007. A list of possible witnesses shown to prospective jurors included long-time Spector studio associates Hal Blaine and Nino Tempo, limo driver Adriano de Souza and writer Anne Beatts.

Opening statements in the trial began April 25, 2007 in Los Angeles.

The trial was surrounded by controversy from its start. Famed forensic expert Henry Lee (who provided key evidence in the O. J. Simpson trial) was accused of hiding crucial evidence that the District Attorney's office claimed could prove Spector's guilt. Furthermore, a coroner who examined Clarkson's body concluded that bruising on her tongue indicated that the gun was shoved in her mouth.

Despite these setbacks, Spector's defense team had a breakthrough on June 12, 2007 when the Los Angeles Sheriff's criminalist DNA expert stated that only Clarkson's DNA was found on the handgun, which aided Spector's defense that she shot herself. The DNA expert also found none of Spector's DNA on Clarkson's fingernails, which hurt the prosecution's argument that Clarkson struggled with Spector.

On September 18, 2007, the jury reported that they had "reached an impasse" and judge Fidler adjourned the case for attorneys to review the position. The jury was split 7-5; however, no indication was given as to which side was which. Fidler stated he would consider whether or not the charge of involuntary manslaughter would fit the profile of the case.

At the urging of the defense, Fidler, however, decided against the addition of the lesser included charge as he considered it tantamount to an instruction to convict. On September 20, 2007, the jury resumed deliberations. Prior to the deliberation, Fidler removed "Special Instruction 3", which he characterized as a misstatement of the law.

The charge in the case against Spector was second-degree murder. Spector could have received a 15-year-to-life sentence (with another ten years added automatically since the crime involved a gun) if convicted.

On September 26, 2007 at 1:45pm PST, the jury stated that it could not reach a verdict. The jurors announced a deadlock of ten for guilty and two for not guilty. Judge Fidler then declared a mistrial in the murder case against Phil Spector.

Second trial

The judge and lawyers met on October 3, 2007, to discuss future proceedings. Sandi Gibbons, the spokeperson for the District Attorney's office, confirmed that preparations were being made to retry Spector immediately.

In early December 2007, it was announced that San Francisco lawyer Doron Weinberg had agreed to serve as Spector's attorney and had proposed that the retrial begin in September 2008. The only remaining member of Spector's defense team is Christopher Plourd, who Weinberg told Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler will not be available to resume the case until the autumn of 2008. All of the remaining members of Spector's previous defense team have either resigned or were dismissed after the mistrial.

Also, in the same month, Spector decided to once again sue former attorney Robert Shapiro for a one million dollar retainer paid before the first trial. Spector also claimed that Shapiro inadequately prepared the trial and may have been responsible for the prosecution filing charges in the first place.

On April 11, 2008, Spector lost another battle in his bid to disqualify the judge presiding at his murder retrial. Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler, who presided over Spector's 2007 mistrial, has been accused by the defense as showing a bias against Spector. A state appellate panel refused to order the appointment of a neutral judge to determine whether Judge Fidler should be removed from the retrial of the case. Fidler previously refused to remove himself from the retrial.

Jury selection in the murder retrial began on October 20, 2008, with Judge Fidler again presiding. On February 19, 2009, the trial visited Spector's home for an hour, where the jury inspected the scene and submitted 9 questions to the judge.

The case went to the jury March 27, 2009. On April 13, the jury returned a guilty verdict, convicting Spector of second-degree murder. In addition he was found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime. Spector was immediately taken into custody and and was formally sentenced on May 29, 2009, to 19 years to life in the California state prison system. Spector will be 88 years old before becoming eligible for parole.


Spector was married to Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett, former lead singer of The Ronettes (a girl group that he had managed and produced), from 1968 to 1974. They adopted three children.

Louis Phillip - Born May 12, 1966 (Adopted: age 5)
Gary Phillip - Born May 12, 1966 (Adopted: age 5)
Donte Phillip - Born March 23, 1969 (Adopted: age 8 Months)

Other children:

Nicole - Born 1982
Phillip - Born 1982 (died Dec. 25, 1991)

Spector married aspiring singer and actress Rachelle Short on September 1, 2006. According to, the 26-year-old Pennsylvania native had a small role in 2000's "Tigerland," a film about soldiers training during the Vietnam-era, starring Colin Farrell. She also appeared in Playboy magazine before her marriage to Spector, although the appearance was not in a nude pictorial spread, the magazine said. Rather, a single, black & white topless photo of Short appeared in the magazine's "Grapevine" section.

Prior to the move to California, Short was a music major at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC, near Charlotte. Short also sang and modeled in the Charlotte area, and was a member of a short-lived group of promotional swimsuit models.

Further reading

  • Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector, by Mick Brown, ISBN 10: 0747572437

  • He's a Rebel: The Truth About Phil Spector – Rock and Roll's Legendary Madman, by Mark Ribowsky (biography). ISBN 0-306-81471-4.

  • "The First Tycoon of Teen", Tom Wolfe (magazine article reprinted in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, ISBN 0-553-38058-3, and in the Back to Mono liner notes.)

  • Out of His Head, by Richard Williams (biography). ISBN 0-7119-9864-7

  • Wall of Pain: The Biography of Phil Spector, by Dave Thompson. ISBN 1-86074-543-1

  • Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era, by Ken Emerson, (ISBN 0-670-03456-8)

  • Fuel-Injected Dreams (novel whose central character is based on Phil Spector), by James Robert Baker. ISBN 0-452-25815-4



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