Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phil Spector = Jailbird!

original article in the montclarion

No longer wearing his sunglasses and overdone teased wigs, it's safe to say that legendary music producer and songwriter Phil Spector is done with his hypnotizing melodies, as he was recently convicted on Monday for shooting and killing B-movie actress Lana Clarkson.

After the shooting in 2003, Spector, at 68, was convicted of second degree murder and faces a minimum of 18 years in prison.

Though there was a history of Spector threatening women he has dated and pointing guns at artists while recording, let's try to put those aside (even if it's for a second) and remember the genius that was Spector.

Born in the Bronx in 1940, Spector dealt with tragedy at a young age when his father committed suicide in 1949. In his high school years, Spector became proficient in songwriting, and played instruments like guitar, piano and French horn.

He formed the group the Teddybears with high school friends in 1958. They became number one on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart with their hit, "To Know Him is to Love Him," which was inspired by words on his father's grave. After experiencing stage fright, Spector decided that he'd be better behind the stage, producing music rather than performing it.

Over the years, Spector had become a well-known name, producing and co-writing hits like "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King and "Uptown" by the Crystals. The early 1960s were when Spector made his signature "wall of sound" technique, including amazing multi-layered ensembles of instruments in his recordings.

His ear was known to recognize a hit, and Spector proved this, having close to 20 hits within only three years. Groups like the Righteous Brothers, the Ronettes and the Crystals have Spector to thank for the hits that brought them fame and fortune.

After not having much success in the mid -60s, Spector made his comeback when he produced the Beatles' Let It Be album, which topped music charts in England as well as in the United States. Spector also worked with George Harrison and John Lennon on their solo projects, which were very successful.

Not only did Spector collaborate with well-read musician and novelist Leonard Cohen, but he also took on producing New York's famous punk rock band, the Ramones, with their album End of the Century, showing that Spector had no borders when it came to genres of music.

Spector was to artists of the '60s what Timberland is to recent artists, guaranteeing a hit to whoever worked with him.

He has had a huge influence on music, and his songs are covered by many artists today, including Neutral Milk Hotel's cover of "I Love How You Love Me," which has simple lyrics about love that make hearts flutter along with the beat.

Whoever wrote or produced a song that's still being played close to 50 years later must have done something right for it to remain timeless in this generation of getting songs with just the click of a button.

Too bad Spector has washed away his praise and recognition from some fans with just the click of a trigger.

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