Producer Phil Spector free on bond

Feb. 3, 2003 at 11:47 PM
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ALHAMBRA, Calif., Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Producer Phil Spector was released on $1 million bond late Monday, and faces a March 3 arraignment on first-degree murder charges in Alhambra, near Los Angeles.

The legendary producer of dozens of classic rock 'n' roll records was arrested at his estate Monday morning and charged with the shooting death of a woman police described as "a female, white adult" in her early to mid-20s. Police had not disclosed the woman's identity by Monday evening, because they were still trying to notify her relatives.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Efflandt said that Alhambra police were responding to a report of a shooting at Spector's home at around 5 a.m. Monday when they found the woman's body in the foyer. Spector -- an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- was arrested at the scene.

Spector is being represented by Robert Shapiro, a member of the so-called "dream team" that won an acquittal for football legend O.J. Simpson in his double-murder trial.

Spector is widely regarded as one of the greatest record producers in rock 'n' roll -- with a resume that includes such classic hits as "Da Doo Ron Ron," "He's a Rebel" and "Then He Kissed Me" (The Crystals); "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You" (The Ronettes); and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and "Unchained Melody" (The Righteous Brothers).

Born Dec. 26, 1940, in New York, Spector broke into pop music as a member of the Teddy Bears with the Top 10 hit "To Know Him Is to Love Him."

He co-wrote "Spanish Harlem" with Jerry Lieber, of the Hall of Fame songwriting team Lieber and Stoller. He produced hits for Gene Pitney ("Every Little Breath I Take"), Curtis Lee ("Pretty Little Angel Eyes") and the Paris Sisters ("I Love How You Love Me").

Eventually, Spector developed a style involving a heavy emphasis on string arrangements and echo effects that came to be known as the "Wall of Sound," which some called "solid walls of sound." He employed many notable session players who went on to successful individual careers, including guitarist Glen Campbell, pianist Leon Russell and drummer Hal Blaine.

The late Sonny Bono often said he learned much of his music recording craft from working on sessions in Los Angeles with Spector.

During the late '60s and early '70s, Spector applied his technique to recording sessions for The Beatles' "Let It Be" album, and also produced individual projects for John Lennon ("Plastic Ono Band") and George Harrison ("All Things Must Pass").

Spector went on to produce more contemporary projects for such artists as The Ramones, Cher and Duran Duran.

In 1969, Spector played a drug connection in the Peter Fonda classic counterculture movie "Easy Rider."

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

Spector has been associated with bizarre behavior on several occasions, including a 1980 recording session in which he reportedly pulled a gun on The Ramones in a dispute over the ownership of master tapes on the album "End of the Century."

In 1988, Spector was hit with a $3 million breach-of-contract lawsuit by Veronica Bennett, her sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Ross. They were known professionally as The Ronettes, the '60s girl group that he discovered and managed.

In October 2002, a New York appeals court reversed a lower court that had found in favor of the plaintiffs. A five-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals said it was "sympathetic" with the trio's situation, but ruled unanimously that the 1963 contract they signed with Spector was still in effect. The judges ruled that Spector held the right to license the group's music for films, commercials and compilation discs without paying them residuals.

Spector was married to Veronica Bennett from 1968 until 1974. She pursued a solo singing career as Ronnie Spector and later married Jonathan Greenfield, who managed her career.

Phil Spector received one of the Recording Academy's highest honors, the Trustees Award, in 2000. The award, determined by a vote of the Recording Academy's National Trustees, is presented to "individuals who, during their career in music, have made significant contributions -- other than performance -- to the field of recording."

Spector was honored for his "unique wall of sound and creative genius (that) gave birth to a style of music that will forever be acknowledged as integral to the evolution of pop and rock and roll."

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