Phil Spector, the influential music producer who was imprisoned for murder later in his career, has died. He was 81.
Spector was pronounced dead on January 16 while still in jail. In a statement, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation added that Spector’s “official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.”
According to the New York Times, Spector’s daughter, Nicole Audrey Spector, said that he had suffered from COVID-19 complications in December and was later intubated.
Spector started out in music while in high school when he formed the band, The Teddy Bears, with fellow students Marshall Leib and Annette Kleinbard. They recorded Spector’s self-produced track “To Know Him is to Love Him,” which became their number one single on Billboard in 1958. After the band split the following year, Spector worked as a session guitarist and helped produce Gene Pitney’s “Every Breath I Take.” He also co-wrote Ben E King’s hit, “Spanish Harlem.”
Spector later achieved success in the mid-’60s, having discovered and produced songs for the Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love, among many others. He later went on to collaborate with the Beatles and worked with John Lennon, co-producing his landmark solo album Imagine.
Spector was also known for developing the “Wall of Sound,” a recording technique that influenced future artists such as Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Bruce Springsteen.
Spector’s illustrious career came to an end in 2009 when he was found guilty of killing Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson. The producer was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison.
Following news of Spector’s passing, Spector’s ex-wife and the Ronettes singer Ronnie Spector released a statement on his death and their relationship. “The magical music we were able to make together, was inspired by our love. I loved him madly, and gave my heart and soul to him,” she wrote on Instagram.
“As I said many times while he was alive, 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.” Read her full statement below.