Producer and songwriter Phil Spector has died at the age of 81 while serving a prison sentence for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed Spector’s passing with a post on their website earlier today, citing natural causes. It’s since been confirmed that Spector died as a result of complications related to COVID-19.
Primarily active throughout the 60s and 70s, albums Spector produced include the Beatles’ Let It Be, Leonard Cohen‘s Death of a Ladies Man and End of the Century by the Ramones. He also worked on a slew of pop singles including the Righteous Brothers’ ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ and ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ by the Crystals.
In 1968, Spector married the Ronettes’ Ronnie Spector, who has in the years since detailed the abuse she experienced from the producer. Spector imprisoned Ronnie in his house, surrounding it with barbed wire and guard dogs and threatening to kill her if she ever left. Ronnie Spector escaped the house in 1972 – “I knew that if I didn’t leave I was going to die there,” she later said.
In a statement on Instagram earlier today, Ronnie Spector wrote that “he was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband.”
“Unfortunately Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged. I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.”
In February 2003, Spector shot and killed actress Lana Clarkson. The pair had met in the early hours of the morning before being driven back to Spector’s mansion. His driver heard a gunshot soon after, with Spector leaving the house through the back door holding a gun. An emergency call made by his driver Adriano de Souza quoted Spector as saying, “I think I’ve killed someone.”
In March 2009, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder, and sentenced to 19 years in prison to life.