Phil Spector Dead

by Bob Schwartz

Music producer Phil Spector has died in a California prison at the age of 81. In 2009 he was convicted of murdering actress Lara Clarkson.

You might read stories about his life and about his lifelong mental struggles that devolved, even according to Spector himself, into insanity. You might also read parallel stories about his musical genius, if you aren’t personally familiar with it.

My reaction to the news of his death, given what I (sometimes at least) think about supreme art in light of an artist’s concerning life: Fuck biography. Just listen.

Recorded music is now more than a century old. For those not old enough, realize that there was a time when ordinary listeners didn’t have the tools to hear music the way we do now. Realize too that those who produced music also had much more limited tools. Yet Spector managed what remains one of the miracles in that history of records. He heard something in his head, assembled and stretched the available musicians and tools, and created something that would go from that studio to a record to a radio DJ’s turntable over the air to a tiny and crude speaker on a tiny and crude radio and sound like—heaven.

May his memory and his music be a blessing.