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Phil Spector, legendary producer convicted of murder, dies in prison

LOS ANGELES — Legendary record producer Phil Spector, who was serving a prison term in Stockton for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson in Spector’s Alhambra home, died at a hospital on Saturday evening, prison officials announced Sunday.

Spector was 81.

Prison officials said he died of natural causes, but he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 several weeks ago and was previously hospitalized before returning to California Health Care Facility, which is a prison for inmates with medical or mental health conditions, according to TMZ.

Spector was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. Saturday at an outside hospital. His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

Spector was admitted to the prison from Los Angeles County on June 5, 2009, for second-degree murder. He had been sentenced to 19 years to life for shooting Clarkson, 40, to death in the foyer of his Alhambra mansion on Feb. 3, 2003.

 Related: Phil Spector’s ‘castle,’ where actress Lana Clarkson was killed, for sale at $5.5 million

The two had met hours earlier at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, where she had recently begun working as a VIP hostess.

He was tried for Clarkson’s murder in 2007, but the jury in that case deadlocked 10-2 in favor of conviction. He was convicted at the retrial two years later.

Born and raised in the Bronx, and educated at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, Spector is best known as the creator of the “wall of sound,” a full-bodied production technique that included lush, orchestral instrumentation.

He produced such early 1960s hits as “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” “Unchained Melody,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Be My Baby,” “I Love How You Love Me,” “He’s a Rebel,” “Only Love Can Break a Heart,” the Beatles’ final album, “Let It Be,” and George Harrison’s first post-Beatles solo album, “All Things Must Pass,” among scores of other recordings.

But he also had a notorious dark side, including a fondness for guns. Five women testified in the retrial that Spector had threatened them with guns at various times over several decades in order to keep them from leaving his home.

Clarkson, who was best known for her starring role in the 1985 Roger Corman cult hit “Barbarian Queen,” had bit parts on dozens of television shows and in a few well-known movies, such as 1982’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

A flood of reactions to Spector’s death on Twitter were grappling with his twin legacies as a game-changing force in pop music and a convicted murderer.

English recording artist Beverley Knight tweeted “Jeez. What an ignominious end to his life considering his incredible music career. His Wall Of Sound became the basis of so many songs from then to right now (including my last single).”

But she followed that up with a more blunt tweet one minute later: “Oh and let me say it straight out. He was a murdering lowlife scumbag. He deserved to die in prison.”

English songwriter and producer Alex Opal tweeted: “Music legend and my ultimate writing and production inspiration Phil Spector has passed away. Responsible for some of the greatest music of all time. Talented and insane in equal measure.”

Others simply tweeted a photo of Clarkson accompanied by pleas to remember Spector’s victim.

Source: Orange County Register

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