Phil Spector is dead. But according to recent coverage, he was a brilliant musical mind slightly inconvenienced by a murder conviction.
Recently, convicted murderer Phil Spector died in jail, yet much of the coverage focuses on what he achieved, rather than what he did. Spector was serving a sentence of 19-years-to-life after being charged with the murder of actor Lana Clarkson in 2003.
Clarkson, who was 40 at the time of her death, died after being shot in the foyer of Spector’s mock castle home outside Los Angeles. It has been established that the two met hours earlier, after Spector ditched his date to wait around for Clarkson to finish her shift at Hollywood nightclub, House of Blues.
Spector later claimed that Clarkson’s wounds were self-inflicted, a fact later disproved by the autopsy.
Dr. Louis Pena gave his testimony when Spector’s case went to trial in 2007 and noted that Clarkson’s tongue was severely bruised — indicating that the murder weapon, a gun, was forcefully pushed into her mouth. “The bruise is very unique and is consistent with blunt-force trauma. Something struck the tongue,” Dr. Pena explained. During the trial, the court also heard from four women, who all claimed Spector had threatened them with guns when they turned down his advances.
Ronnie Spector, the former wife of Phil took to Instagram to note that he was a “brilliant producer but a lousy husband.”
Per Page Six, “Ronnie … has previously accused him of pulling a gun on her, forcing her to sign a divorce settlement that reportedly cut her out of future records earning, and even lobbying the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to not induct her.”
Spector tortured Ronnie beyond the six years of their marriage, with the former apparently keeping a gold coffin with a see-through lid in storage, and promised that she’d be displayed in it if she ever left him. The aforementioned publication also noted that the three adopted children suffered abuse at the hands of Spector.
This is who we should be remembering, who he was, not what he made in some darkened room in the middle ’60s.
Through the prism of this selective memory, today’s headlines make sense. There’s been little focus on his victims, nor a greater explanation of his crimes, as the music he created has taken center stage. BBC News labeled him “talented but flawed,” whereas Rolling Stone suggested that his “legacy was marred by a murder conviction.” Perth Now concluded that “Music producer Phil Spector dies in jail, aged 81”.
(The original title of the BBC News piece that announced his passing; source: Twitter)
In the previously mentioned BBC piece, the music comes first. Taken verbatim from the piece: “Spector, who transformed pop with his ‘wall of sound’ recordings, worked with the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner. … In 2009, he was convicted of the 2003 murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson.”
Pop quiz, hotshot: Glancing at the above segment, what seems more important? The murder of a woman we have to Google? Or The Beatles?
Words matter, and elevating an obviously cruel and violent man to the level of “flawed” genius in his passing marginalizes the pain he’s caused and the damage he’s done.
He’s a convicted murderer. That’s his legacy.