Phil Spector Is Dead At 81, Got Covid-19 While Serving Murder Sentence In Prison

Phil Spector last interview screenshot from YouTube

Longtime producer, musician, technician, and songwriter Phil Spector is dead. The creator, known for his work producing some of the Beatles’ work along with George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh, and who created The Wall of Sound, and who brought myriad girl groups into pop culture --notably The Ronettes-- had more recently been in prison serving a murder sentence. He died this week after dealing with Covid-19 complications for weeks.

News broke on Sunday that Phil Spector had died. The longtime music producer had reportedly been transferred from his cell and taken to the hospital after his Covid-19 symptoms worsened. He spent four weeks in the hospital before seemingly recovering. That optimism was short-lived, however.

Back in jail, his symptoms reportedly got bad again, and he had to be re-hospitalized, per TMZ. He ultimately died on Saturday after struggling with his breathing. He is not the first famous name to reportedly deal with Covid-19 while imprisoned, as Harvey Weinstein allegedly also had Covid-19 earlier this year. In Weinstein’s case, reports had been back and forth about whether or not the longtime movie producer had recovered.

Phil Spector’s legacy may not be what he intended, but his music lives on in lots of notable works. The Ronette’s track he produced “Be My Baby” is not only a great pop song, it also opens up the movie in Dirty Dancing. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” sung by Darlene Love and produced by Spector, has also become a classic that has popped up in movies as varied as Bad Santa and Christmas with the Kranks.

Phil Spector died with 13 top #10 singles under his belt, many of them by the Ronettes. He also produced The Beatles’ album Let it Be and John Lennon's "Imagine." The man once even had a cameo on I Dream of Jeannie at the height of his fame. A movie was also made about Phil Spector starring Al Pacino back in 2013.

Then in 2003, it all came crashing down. After a night out at the House of Blues, a young woman named Lana Clarkson came home with him and was later found shot in Phil Spector’s home. Phil Spector told police she'd shot herself but had allegedly mentioned to his bodyguard that he thought he'd "killed somebody." A first trial ended in a hung jury; then, in 2009 Phil Spector was retried and found guilty. He was serving a 19-year or to life prison sentence.

A New York Times piece today mentions his health had been failing. He'd reportedly been transferred to the California State Prison in Corcoran since 2014, where he had come into contact with a Covid-19 positive individual. Spector is one of many famous names, many of them-- but not all -- older icons who have been taken by the Covid-19 virus this year.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.