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.”


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