is a legendary record producer
, known for his Wagnerian Wall of Sound
Spector started his career in the vocal group The Teddy Bears whose big hit was the Spector-penned To Know Him Is To Love Him, before going on to work with Leiber And Stoller on records for Ben E King and The Drifters, cowriting Spanish Harlem among other tracks.
Spector formed his own Philles records, one of the most important independent labels of the early 60s, pioneering a mushy, bombastic sound acheived by multiple overdubbing (in Gold Star's echo chamber) of huge numbers of musicians, before mixing down to mono (Spector has never approved of stereo, because it places too much control in the hands of the listener as opposed to the producer - the box set of his 60s work is entitled Back To Mono).
While Spector was a control freak, he was also good at delegating. He usually at least co-wrote the songs he produced, but wrote them with the Brill Building hitmakers of the day, like Barry and Greenwich, Mann and Weill and Goffin and King. Simillarly, while he worked out the rough lines of the arrangements, he left the details to the great Jack Nitzsche, while Sonny Bono did much of the work out front with the musicians in the studio.
Whatever the name on the record (and other than the Ronettes , whose lead vocalist was Ronnie Spector, Spector's wife, the lead singer on the vast bulk of Spector's girl group records was session singer Darlene Love), the same sets of musicians would be used, a loose conglomerate later dubbed the Wrecking Crew, usually featuring but not limited to Hal Blaine , Carol Kaye, Barney Kessel, Glen Campbell, Dr. John, Leon Russel and Larry Knechtel. These musicians played on most records to come out of LA in the 60s, largely as a result of Spector's influence.
After a huge string of legendary hits - Be My Baby, Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me, You've Lost That Loving Feeling and many others - Spector made a slip up with his greatest work. He gave LA's most popular local radio station an exclusive preview of River Deep, Mountain High 'by' Ike And Tina Turner, thus alienating the second most popular station - and the network of which it was a part. Thus despite being a hit in the UK, and hugely influential (listen to the verses on Heroes & Villains by the Beach Boys for a blatant lift), the song was a flop, and Spector's career as a maker of perfect pop singles was over more or less overnight.
As a result of being called in to fix up the Beatles' Get Back sessions - the result was the Let It Be album - Spector went on to co-produce much of the early 70s solo output of John Lennon and George Harrison, almost universally accepted as the best Beatle solo material. His over-lush orchestration on The Long And Winding Road made an enemy for life of Paul McCartney though.
Other than isolated projects - End Of The Century by The Ramones, Death Of A Ladies Man by Leonard Cohen and some unreleased work with Celine Dion, Spector has remained largely unemployed for the last 25 years or so. He keeps a tight rein on the Philles masters, and lives comfortably off his royalties from his legendary productions.
A Christmas Gift For You/Phil Spector's Christmas Album
Back To Mono (box set)
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
All Things Must Pass - George Harrison
update 04/02/03 - Phil Spector was arrested yesterday for murder - a woman was shot and killed at his home. More when more info is available