The Rise And Fall Of Phil Spector

A look at the rise and fall of Phil Spector, creator of the “wall of sound.”

Music producer Phil Spector, left, and his attorney Dennis Riordan appear in a courtroom for Spector's sentencing in Los Angeles, Friday, May 29, 2009. (AP)

Music producer Phil Spector, left, and his attorney Dennis Riordan appear in a courtroom for Spector’s sentencing in Los Angeles, Friday, May 29, 2009. (AP)

At the dawn of the 1960’s, young music producer Phil Spector was turning the world upside down with his “wall of sound” approach to pop. “Little symphonies for the kids,” he called his work, back when Tom Wolfe called him “The Tycoon of Teen.”

Phil Spector was huge, then strange, then charged with murder, then convicted. Now HBO’s brought him back with a sympathetic rendering by David Mamet. Al Pacino as the raving end.

This hour, On Point: from Doo Ron Ron to prison to HBO, the unending story of Phil Spector.

-Tom Ashbrook


Mick Brown, author of “Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector.” (@mickbrownwriter)

Scott Raab, writer for Esquire. Author of the magazine’s 2003 profile, “Be My, Be My Baby: The Phil Spector Story.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Esquire (Scott Raab) “Then — schooled on jazz and Wagner, all brain, balls, and hustle — came Phillip. Wee fatherless Jewboy outta the Bronx via Fairfax in Los Angeles shook thunder from the heavens. Spector claimed to be creating ‘little symphonies for the kids’: He was. He set out to make millions and millions of dollars and music that was good and important enough to last forever: He did. And he wanted to find love — true, true love: Ah, well… two out of three ain’t bad, even for a genius.”

The Christian Science Monitor “His lawyers know that, in the mind of the modern-day public, he is not the music wizard who created the girl-group sound in the early 1960s, co-wrote ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” for the Righteous Brothers, and produced records for the Ramones and the Beatles. Instead, by 2007, he’s generally regarded as a creepy, homicidal has-been who hides out with his dozens of guns and his dozens of outlandish wigs — a pint-sized wacko too big for his britches.”

Entertainment Weekly “In Phil Spector, the trick of Spector’s paranoid megalomania is this: When he talks about his achievements, how he was the most successful record producer who ever lived, or how his placement of black singers within the wall of sound broke the color barrier in America, or how ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ is the greatest pop single ever recorded…well, you listen to this self-justifying litany of achievement, and on some level it’s inflated out of all proportion, and in another way it’s hard to disagree with any of it.”


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Dec 1, 2015
Bethany Winder, a nurse who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., plants a sign in support of Planned Parenthood just south of its clinic as police investigators gather evidence near the scene of Friday's shooting at the clinic Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in northwest Colorado Springs. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Women’s health, American politics and gun violence after the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting.

Dec 1, 2015
In this 2010 file photo, Dr. Tom and Ann Earley work a Salvation Army kettle with their dog, Bocce, in an Atlanta, GA-area shopping center. (Flickr / Vicki DeLoach)

On #GivingTuesday, we’ll explore the trends in giving now from crowd sourcing to big charities and beyond.

Nov 30, 2015
Shoppers walks in front of a holiday display Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, we’ll add up the dollars and trends and bargains of the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Nov 30, 2015
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, center left, Minister of the Environment of Peru and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, center right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius, center, pose for photographers during a press visit to the COP21, Paris Climate Conference, site, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

World leaders converge in Paris for the big climate talks. We’ll look at what it will take to get a global climate agreement.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »