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17 January 2021

Beatles producer Phil Spector dies while serving murder sentence

17 January 2021

Music producer Phil Spector has died while he was serving a prison sentence for murder.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed he died of natural causes in hospital on Saturday.

A statement from the department said: “California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6.35pm on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital.

“His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.”

The department told the PA news agency Spector was born in December 1940 and died aged 80, however The Associated Press said court documents and the producer’s lawyer gave his date of birth as 1939.

In 2009, Spector was sentenced to a minimum 19 years in prison for murdering the actress Lana Clarkson.

The 40-year-old, known for starring in films including Barbarian Queen, died of a gunshot fired into her mouth while she was in Spector’s mansion on the outskirts of Los Angeles in 2003.

Phil Spector Retrial – Los Angeles (PA Archive)

In a magazine interview, Spector had claimed she had “kissed the gun” before pulling the trigger herself, however the jury unanimously agreed he had murdered the actress.

Spector, who was born in The Bronx, New York, made his name as a record producer for what became known as the “wall of sound” recording technique with its dense, layered effect.

(PA Archive)

When he was just 17 years old and performing with the Teddy Bears, Spector had a top 10 hit in the US with To Know Him Is To Love Him.

However he was best known for his role as a producer, working with some of biggest stars in music including John Lennon, whose 1971 hit Imagine he produced.

Ike and Tina Turner, The Ronettes, The Righteous, Cher, Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles all also worked with the producer.

Spector produced Let It Be, The Beatles’ final album, which was released in 1970.

Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

After 23 years, Spector came out of retirement in 2003 to work with UK band Starsailor on their album Silence Is Easy.

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