Phil Spector, the legendary record producer whose “wall of sound” helped change the sound of pop music in the 1960s, was arrested Monday for allegedly shooting a woman to death at his suburban mansion.
Spector, 62, was seized at the castle-like estate around 5 a.m. after someone in the home called authorities. He was released shortly after 7 p.m. after posting $1 million bond, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Rich Pena.
Attorney Robert Shapiro, whose clients have included O.J. Simpson, was representing Spector. “I don’t know answers to any of this,” Shapiro said by telephone from the Alhambra Police Department before Spector’s release.
The victim was identified as 40-year-old Lana Clarkson, of Los Angeles, said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Richard Westin. Investigators would not say what her relationship was to Spector.
Lt. Daniel Rosenberg said deputies had found the murder weapon but released no details.
Police arrived after someone in the home called to report shots had been fired, Rosenberg said.
“Someone else was there at the time of the shooting,” he said, declining to elaborate. A black Mercedes-Benz sedan with the driver’s door open was parked in the driveway of the home, which records show Spector bought in 1998 for $1.1 million. Authorities towed the car away later in the day.
A friend of Spector’s, attorney Marvin Mitchelson, said the producer lived alone and didn’t have a girlfriend. He said he and Spector had been trying to put together a movie about Spector’s life.
“His mental state has been great – very rational, very together,” the attorney said.
Spector is famous for creating the “wall of sound” effect that involved overdubbing to create a full, dramatic sound. The technique, which combines multiple instruments, vocals and sound effects, changed the way pop records were produced while bringing fame to groups like the Ronettes and the Crystals.
In his storied career, Spector produced records for Elvis Presley, Ike and Tina Turner, the Righteous Brothers and Darlene Love. He produced the last Beatles album, “Let It Be,” in 1970, worked with John Lennon on “Imagine” and helped Yoko Ono produce Lennon’s work after he was killed in 1980.
Among the hits bearing his signature style are “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals; “Walking in the Rain” by the Ronettes and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” by the Righteous Brothers.
His session players, known as the “Wrecking Crew,” included guitarist Glen Campbell, pianist Leon Russell, drummer Hal Blaine and the late Sonny Bono, who learned the producer’s trade under Spector.
But his production style, involving heavy use of echo, went out of style. Paul McCartney is known to hate Spector’s work on “Let it Be,” done without his consent, and has said he wants to release the album stripped of Spector’s contributions.
Spector, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, has been reclusive over the past couple of decades. His last major album was “End of the Century,” a 1980 collaboration with the Ramones.
During the session, the late bassist Dee Dee Ramone once said, Spector pulled a gun on the band.
“I don’t think he would hurt a fly. Until anything happens, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty. I don’t think Phil had it in him to murder anybody,” Marky Ramone, drummer for the Ramones, told the Fox News Channel.
A 1995 biography by Rolling Stone magazine said the producer at times displayed near-psychotic and abusive behavior.
“It had to stop,” Spector said of his behavior in a 1977 Los Angeles Times interview. “Being the rich millionaire in the mansion and then dressing up as Batman. I have to admit I did enjoy it to a certain extent. But I began to realize it was very unhealthy.”
Spector was a 17-year-old student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles when he wrote and produced his first No. 1 hit, a 1958 ballad for the Teddy Bears called “To Know Him Is to Love Him.” Its title was taken from the inscription on the gravestone of his father, Benjamin, who committed suicide in 1949 when Spector was 9.
Spector’s second wife was Ronnie Bennett, lead singer of the Ronettes. They divorced in 1974. He has five children from his marriages.
The Ronettes have sued Spector for allegedly cheating them out of earnings from the recordings. The lawsuit, which seeks $3 million, is pending in New York state court.