Phil Spector had been serving a prison sentence since 2009 for the murder of Lana Clarkson, a nightclub hostess whom he had taken to his home after a night of drinking in 2003. Los Angeles police found her slumped in a chair in the foyer, dead from a single bullet wound to the head.
Spector scored his first No. 1 hit when he was still in his teens. With the Teddy Bears, a group he formed with two school friends, he recorded the dreamy ballad “To Know Him Is to Love Him.” Released in August 1958, it sold over 1 million records after the group appeared on the popular TV show “American Bandstand.”
After learning the ropes as a record producer, Spector became a one-man hit factory. Between 1960 and 1965 he placed 24 records in the Top 40, many of them classics. His 13 Top 10 singles included some of the quintessential “girl group” songs of the era: “He’s a Rebel,” “Uptown,” “Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron” by the Crystals, and “Be My Baby” and “Walking in the Rain” by the Ronettes.
For the Righteous Brothers he produced “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” a No. 1 hit that became the 20th century’s most-played song on radio and television, according to BMI. Spector’s signature was the wall of sound, perfected at Gold Star Studios in LA, where he worked with engineer Larry Levine, arranger Jack Nitzsche and a team of musicians. Harvey Philip Spector was born on Dec. 26, 1939, in the Bronx. (Spector hated his first name and went by Phil.) In addition to his daughter Nicole, survivors include his partner, Janis Zavala.