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Spector, Phil

Phil Spector

Music producer, songwriter

Considered a rock-and-roll legend, Phil Spector is credited with revolutionizing the recording industry. From 1962 to 1965 he produced a number of rock classics and made stars of such groups as the Crystals, the Ronettes, and the Righteous Brothers. His influence declined, however, with the "British invasion" of the mid-1960s. Ironically, the vanguard of that invasion—the Beatles—later helped to revive his career. Spector's later life, even as he was venerated as a music legend, became the stuff of Hollywood headlines.

Born Harvey Phillip Spector on December 26, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, Spector suffered the death of his father, an ironworker, by suicide when he was nine years old. He moved to Los Angeles with his family three years later. Spector became interested in music (particularly rhythm and blues) while in high school, and was influenced by the work of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who had produced a number of hits for Elvis Presley, the Coasters, and other performers. Spector eventually met the producers and became something of a regular at their studio. He wrote his first song, "To Know Him is to Love Him," in 1958. The title of the song was taken from the inscription on his father's gravestone. Spector recruited a local high school student to sing the female lead, sang the background harmonies himself, and named the duet the Teddy Bears. "To Know Him," which sold over one million records, was the Teddy Bears' only hit. In 1959 Spector recorded two singles under the name Spectors Three. Both records, however, failed to make the charts.

Three years later Spector founded Philles Records and began producing what Time's Jay Cocks called "some of rock's greatest records." Spector-produced hits include "He's a Rebel," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and "River Deep-Mountain High." During this time he perfected his trademark "wall of sound," which was described by Cocks as "vaulting arrangements and majestic delirium." He wrote orchestral arrangements that had the intensity of rock and roll. In the book Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, Richard Williams noted that the producer used his singers "as tools, manipulating their every musical move with infinite care." According to Williams, the result was "'spontaneous' excitement through precise preplanning." Spector virtually created the "girl group" sound of the early 1960s, and his production techniques marked some of the decade's best-known pop hits. The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," which Spector had a hand in composing as well, was a good example of the wall of sound at its height.

As British rock came into prominence in the mid-1960s, the Spector era drew to a close. However, in 1970 he produced several tracks on the Beatles' Let It Be album, and worked with John Lennon on Imagine and with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass. He also produced A Concert for Bangladesh, as well as records by Cher, Dion, Leonard Cohen, Nilsson, and the Ramones.

Spector has been variously described as a mad genius, an eccentric, and a recluse. "In a recording studio, he throws tantrums as easily as other producers turn dials," wrote Cocks. "His excesses of style and manner are legend, and some call him mad." In a review of a documentary on Spector, the New Statesman's Mary Harron commented: "He had one perfect moment in the early 60s, and never recovered. And maybe that was all he could have because, as Sonny Bono said, 'everything he did was perfect, but it was always that one wall of sound.' But what a sound."

Spector's later years were marked by periodic attempts to regain the spotlight. When punk rock first gained popularity in the late 1970s, Spector convinced members of the leading American punk band the Ramones that he could lead them to a commercial breakthrough. He produced the group's End of the Century album in 1980, but the sessions were marred, according to bassist Dee Dee Ramone, when Spector pulled a gun during an in-studio dispute.

Later, Spector's ex-wife Ronnie (of the Ronettes) would allege that the producer was quick to reach for a gun when his temper flared. "I can only say that when I left him in the early '70s, I knew that if I didn't leave at the time, I was going to die there," she said in an interview quoted by Newsweek.

Living in a $14 million estate in Alhambra, California, Spector continued to generate tales of wild behavior. Sometimes he tried to pull his life together. Known for his heavy drinking, he gave up alcohol altogether for a period of several years beginning in the late 1990s. But performers were still drawn to the Spector mystique. In 1995 he signed on to produce the Falling into You album by pop megastar Celine Dion. The partnership dissolved for unspecified reasons, and Spector, while praising Dion, publicly attacked the work of the producers who replaced him. He claimed to have tapes of Dion tracks he had produced, and announced plans to release them at a future date. In the early 2000s he began to work with a British band called Starsailor and was romantically linked to singer Nancy Sinatra.

After these promising developments, Spector's world fell apart. In the early morning hours of February 3, 2003, police were called (by a chauffeur, according to People) to Spector's Alhambra estate, where they found the body of actress Lana Clarkson, dead of a gunshot wound. Jailed briefly, Spector posted a $1 million bond and retained former O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro as his legal counsel.

Publicly proclaiming his innocence, Spector stated that some police officers believed Clarkson might have killed herself. He entered a not-guilty plea on November 20, 2003, after which the case became ensnarled in a series of preliminary hearings. At one proceeding in September of 2005, Spector showed up in court wearing high heels, with his hair styled in an enormous white Afro. Spector's murder trial, with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler presiding, began n in January of 2006.

For the Record …

Born on December 26, 1940, in Bronx, NY; mother's name, Bertha; married Veronica Bennett (a singer), 1968 (divorced, 1974); children: Gary and Louis (twins); Donte; Nicole and Phillip (twins). Education: Attended University of California at Los Angeles.

Member of musical groups the Teddy Bears, 1958–59, and Spectors Three; producer with Atlantic Records, 1960–61; founder, Philles Records, 1962; produced records and albums for numerous artists, including Gene Pitney, Connie Francis, the Crystals, the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers, the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner, John Lennon, George Harrison, Yoko Ono, Cher, and the Ramones; composer of songs, including "To Know Him Is to Love Him," "Oh Why," and "I Really Do"; also composed, with others, "Spanish Harlem," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby," "Chapel of Love," "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," "River Deep-Mountain High," and numerous other songs; producer of television documentary "A Giant Stands 5 Ft. 7 In." and movie The Big T.N.T. Show; appeared in films The T.A.M.I. Show and Easy Rider; produced album End of the Century by the Ramones, 1980; worked briefly with Celine Dion, 1995, and Starsailor, early 2000s.

Addresses: Office—Phil Spector Records International, P.O. Box 69529, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Selected discography

"To Know Him Is to Love Him" (single), Dore, 1958.
The Teddy Bears Sing!, Imperial, c. 1958.
"I Really Do" (single), Trey, c. 1959.
"My Heart Stood Still" (single), Trey, c. 1959.

Sources

Books

Williams, Richard, Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, Outerbridge & Lazard, Inc., 1972.

Periodicals

Billboard, December 6, 2003, p. 6.

Entertainment Weekly, December 3, 2004, p. 42.

High Fidelity, June 1977.

Interview, March 1980.

Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1983; November 4, 1983.

New Statesman, August 19, 1983.

Newsweek, April 22, 1985; February 17, 2003, p. 64; March 24, 2003, p. 41; June 6, 2005, p. 69.

New York, July 18, 1977.

New York Times, March 15, 1984.

People, February 17, 2003, p. 57.

Time, March 10, 1980; June 6, 2005, p. 95.

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The Ronettes

The Ronettes



Pop group




Although their 1963 hit single "Be My Baby" was their only top-ten hit, the song made the Ronettes pop music icons. Producer and svengali Phil Spector turned the three New York City girls into stars with songs from the legendary Brill Building stable of writers. The Ronettes broke the 1960's girl-group mold with their bad-girl style and lead singer Ronnie Spector's trademark hard-but-sweet voice. Sadly, the story turned sour for the Ronettes and they disbanded in 1966, but they remain a fixture in pop-music history.


Sisters Veronica ("Ronnie") and Estelle Bennett began dancing and singing with their cousin Nedra Talley when they were schoolgirls in New York City's Washington Heights/Spanish Harlem area. They took their musical cues from popular doo-wop groups like Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and Little Anthony & the Imperials. Calling themselves the Darling Sisters, the girls won the amateur talent contest at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater while they were all still teenagers.


The Peppermint Lounge, home of the twist dance craze, was New York's place to be in 1961. The three girls were standing in line waiting to get into the club one night when the man at the door waved to them and hurried them into the building. "Girls, you're late," he said. He'd mistaken them for that night's entertainment, and none of the three was going to tell him any different. They took the stage, and ended up becoming a regular act at the trendy club. They also appeared in the film Twist around the Clock. By the time they released their first single "I Want A Boy" later that year, they'd become Ronnie & the Relatives. Not long after, when they released their follow-up single, 1962's "Silhouettes," they had streamlined their name to the Ronettes.


As the Ronettes, the group recorded four singles for the Colpix/May record label and appeared live on the popular radio show Live from the Brooklyn Fox hosted by deejay Murray the K. What happened next is unclear. Some sources claim that Estelle misdialed a phone number and ended up calling producer Phil Spector. Others say that a magazine writer introduced Spector to the Ronettes when he was in New York looking for new acts.


Whichever way the story goes, Spector and the Ronettes began working together and wound up making rock history. In the Ronettesespecially Ronnie's sweet-but-tough voiceSpector found an act with more attitude and personality than usual. Typical girl groups of the 1960s were promoted as little more than pretty faces. On the Ronettes' record covers, the girls wore high bouffants, inches-thick mascara, and microminis. They also referred to the object of their affections directly in their lyrics. These were not the girls next door.

The Ronettes signed with Spector's Philles record label, and went to work in the recording studio. In July of 1963 they released the single "Be My Baby," which showcased both Spector's production talents and Ronnie's voice in the catchy "woh-oh-oh-oh" refrain. Just three months later, the song peaked at number two on the Billboard charts. The trio became an international success as well when the song reached number four on the British charts. This first singlethe group's biggest hitwould become a pop classic.


The Ronettes' next single, "Baby I Love You," featured the dense orchestration and dozens of backing vocal-ists that would become trademarks of the Spector "wall of sound." After the wild success of "Be My Baby," "Baby I Love You" was a comparative disappointment, topping out at only 20 on the American charts. It fared better in Britain, however, where it once again reached number four.


The Ronettes then earned a spot on legendary disc jockey Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars tour and released their first full-length album, Christmas Gift. Fueled by the British success of their two singles, the girls traveled to England in February of 1964 to tour with the Rolling Stones. That same month they released "Best Part of Breaking Up," which failed to reach the top 20 on either side of the Atlantic. The Ronettes continued to record and release for two more years, but never achieved the level of success of their early singles.

Despite their lack of hit singles, the Ronettes became a landmark group. Their most popular singles include "Do I Love You?," "Walking in the Rain," and "Is This What I Get for Loving You?" Spector built his name as a producer with the group, mastering songs written by the now-legendary Brill Building songwriters. He received the only Grammy Award of his career (for Best Sound Effects) for "Walking in the Rain."


The Ronettes' final single was "I Can Hear Music," released in late 1966. Soon after, Spector closed the Philles label and the group disbanded. Ronnie Bennett had long been the focus of Spector's attention, and he wanted to produce her as a solo artist. Her debut solo single, "So Young," released under the name Veronica, was a solo effort in name onlythe two remaining Ronettes sang backup. The single did not do well, and was pulled from stores before too long.


Ronnie's relationship with Spector went well beyond the recording studioSpector left his wife for her in 1968. After they were married, the two set up house in Spector's Los Angeles mansion, but his behavior became extremely controlling. He refused to let her leave the house without his permission, nor was she allowed to make phone calls, see friends, or even read books. This effectively ended her recording career. The two separated in 1973 and later divorced. Ronnie later wrote about her turbulent marriage in her 1990 autobiography Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Mini-skirts, and Madness.


Two singles were released during the marriage, "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered," which was released under the name The Ronettes: Featuring the Voice of Veronica, and "Try Some, Buy Some." Ronnie formed a new version of the Ronettes in the mid-1970s, and released several solo records later in the decade, neither with any success.

For the Record . . .

Members include Estelle Bennett (born on July 22, 1944, in New York, NY), vocals; Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett (born on August 10, 1943, in New York, NY; married and divorced Phil Spector), vocals; Nedra Talley (born on January 27, 1946, in New York, NY), vocals.


Group formed as the Darling Sisters in New York, NY, 1959; performed at the Peppermint Lounge, 1961; appeared in film Twist around the Clock, 1961; signed a deal with Colpix record label and released their first single, "I Want a Boy" as Ronnie & the Relatives, 1961; released regionally popular singles "I'm on the Wagon," "Silhouettes," and "Good Girls" as the Ronettes; signed with Phil Spector's Philles label and released number-two single "Be My Baby," 1963; disbanded January of 1966; sued Spector for $3 million in unpaid royalties, 1990.


Addresses: Website Ronnie Spector Official Website: http://www.ronniespector.com.


"Be My Baby" became a hit again in 1987 when it was included on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. The three original Ronettes sued Spector for unpaid royalties in 1990, but it wasn't until 2001 that a New York court awarded the group nearly $3 million. The verdict was later overturned on appeal.


Selected discography

Christmas Gift, Philles, 1963.

Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes, Philles, 1964.

The Ronettes, Colpix, 1965.

Best of the Ronettes, ABKCO, 1992.

Sources

Books

Spector, Ronnie, Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette, Harmony Books, 1990.


Online

"The Ronettes," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (September 22, 2003).

"The Ronettes," History of Rock, http://www.history-of-rock.com/ronettes (September 22, 2003).

"The Ronettes," VH1, http://www.VH1.com/artists/az/ronettes/bio.jhtml (September 22, 2003).

Ronnie Spector Official Website, http://www.ronniespector.com (December 20, 2003).

Brenna Sanchez

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Spector, Phil

Phil Spector

Producer, songwriter

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Considered a rock-and-roll legend, Phil Spector is credited with revolutionizing the recording industry. From 1962 to 1965 he produced a number of rock classics and made stars of such groups as the Crystals, the Ronnettes, and the Righteous Brothers. His influence declined, however, with the British invasion of the mid-1960s. Ironically, the vanguard of that invasionthe Beatleslater helped to revive his career. Today, the reclusive and somewhat volatile Spector serves as president of his own record label.

Born in the Bronx, Spector moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was 12. He became interested in music (particularly rhythm and blues) while in high school and was influenced by the work of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who had produced a number of hits for Elvis Presley, the Coasters, and other performers. Spector eventually met the producers and became something of a regular at their studio. Spector wrote his first song, To Know Him is to Love Him, in 1958. He recruited a local high school student to sing the female lead, sang the background harmonies himself, and named the duet the Teddy Bears. To Know Him, which sold over one million records, was the Teddy Bears only hit. In 1959 Spector recorded two singles under the name Spectors Three. Both records, however, failed to make the charts.

Three years later Spector founded Philles Records and began producing what Times Jay Cocks called some of rocks greatest records. Spector-produced hits include Hes a Rebel, Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me, Be My Baby, Youve Lost That Loving Feeling, and River Deep-Mountain High. During this time he perfected his trademark wall of sound, which was dubbed by Cocks as vaulting arrangements and majestic delirium. In Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, Richard Williams noted that the producer used his singers as tools, manipulating their every musical move with infinite care. It was, Williams continued, spontaneous excitement through precise preplanning.

As British rock came into prominence in the mid-1960s, the Spector era drew to a close. Though semiretired, in 1970 he produced several tracks on the Beatles Let It Be album; he worked with John Lennon on Imagine and with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass. He also produced A Concert for Bangladesh, as well as records by Cher, Dion, Leonard Cohen, Nilsson, and the Ramones.

Spector has been variously described as a mad genius, an eccentric, and a recluse. In a recording studio, he throws tantrums as easily as other producers turn dials, wrote Cocks. His excesses of style and manner

For the Record

Born December 25,1940, in Bronx, N.Y.; mothers name, Bertha; married Veronica Bennett (a singer), 1968 (divorced, 1974); children: Gary and Louis (twins), Donte, Nicole and Phillip (twins). Education: Attended University of California at Los Angeles.

Member of musical groups the Teddy Bears, 1958-59, and Spectors Three; producer with Atlantic Records, 1960-61; founder, Philles Records, 1962; currently president of Phil Spector Records International. Has produced records and albums for numerous artists, including Gene Pitney, Connie Francis, the Crystals, the Ronnettes, the Righteous Brothers, the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner, John Lennon, George Harrison, Yoko Ono, Cher, and the Ramones. Composer of songs, including To Know Him Is to Love Him, Oh Why, and I Really Do; also composed, with others, Spanish Harlem, Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me, Be My Baby, Chapel of Love, Youve Lost That Loving Feeling, River DeepMountain High, and numerous other songs. Producer of television documentary A Giant Stands 5 Ft 7 In. and of movie The Big T.N.T. Show. Appeared in films The T.A.M.I. Show and Easy Rider.

Addresses: Office Phil Spector Records International, P.O. Box 69529, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

are legend, and some call him mad. In a review of a documentary on Spector, the New Statesmans Mary Harron commented: He had one perfect moment in the early 60s, and never recovered. And maybe that was all he could have because, as Sonny Bono said, everything he did was perfect, but it was always that one wall of sound. But what a sound.

Selected discography

To Know Him Is to Love Him (single), Dore, 1958.

The Teddy Bears Sing!, Imperial, c. 1958.

I Really Do (single), Trey, c. 1959.

My Heart Stood Still (single), Trey, c. 1959.

Sources

Books

Williams, Richard, Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, Outerbridge & Lazard, Inc., 1972.

Periodicals

High Fidelity, June 1977.

Interview, March 1980.

Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1983; November 4, 1983.

New Statesman, August 19, 1983.

Newsweek, April 22, 1985.

New York, July 18, 1977.

New York Times, March 15, 1984.

Time, March 10, 1980.

Denise Wiloch

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"Spector, Phil." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/spector-phil-0