PHIL SPECTOR - Out Of His Head
This is the classic biography of one of the greatest figures of modern popular music. Legendary sixties pop record producer Phil Spector is the inventor of the 'Wall Of Sound'. First published in 1972, this book has been revised and updated by the author to include details of Spector's life over the last 30 years, including the shooting in bizarre circumstances of actress Lana Clarkson at Spector's Los Angeles mansion on February 3, 2003, the same date that Spector's UK counterpart, Joe Meek, ended the life of his landlady, then himself, in a tragic rememberence to his idol Buddy Holly who perished on the same date several years earlier.
In researching the book on Spector the author spent time with the man himself, having been introduced to him by mutual friend John Lennon. He also spoke to many of Spector's working colleagues. This book is really the one to get. It has his personal history, the behind the scenes story of his rise to fame, his obscure early productions, etc, and is packed with wild anecdotes from the people who were there.
As Spector's extraordinary craft passed into pop legend, Brian Wilson's "Pet Sounds" was just one attempt to emulate the orchestral grandeur that had propelled Spector's hitmakers - the Crystals, the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers - to the top of the charts in the early 1960s. But increasingly, the producer's technical genius was tempered by reports of dangerous behavior. Guns figured heavily. He became increasingly reclusive amid reports of psychological abuse of his artists and of his then wife, the Ronettes's Ronnie Spector. Phil is an enigma: A pop music icon who has obviously danced with his demons on many occasions. Richard Williams' book does a fine job of detailing Spector's upbringing, his early career, his domination of the charts with his Philles label, his years spent in hiding, and his past attempts to stage a come back. This updated edition includes a little bit about Spector's current legal woes, and includes more recent photos, but the strength of the book is the first-hand accounts from Spector's friends and colleagues. Yes, there are tales of how Spector has pulled a gun on several musicians, including Stevie Wonder! If you want to know what it was like working with him, this book paints the picture masterfully. Phil is the man Tom Wolfe once called "the first tycoon of teen" and the man who gave popular music a "wall of sound". He had produced a multitude of hit records, but was not immune from producing a flop or two as well. The much-derided Leonard Cohen album "Death Of A Ladies Man" is a case in point.
This book also includes an eye witness account of John Lennon, Phil Spector and Yoko Ono recording "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" in New York in 1971. At that time, Spector was enjoying a second lease of life in the Beatles' fractured inner sanctum. He'd famously retired after his lavish art had reached a crescendo with Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High", a 1966 single that failed to climb the charts, badly bruising Spector's estimable ego. When Phil produced The Ramones' "End of the Century" LP in 1980, it appeared his talent in the studio still had a level of greatness, but resulting stories of his unpredictable behavior began to overshadow his work when the late Dee Dee Ramone famously reported he'd seen Phil shoot a fly on the wall at 45 meters.
In London, 1972, just after music journalist Richard Williams had published this book, he was invited to Spector's Park Lane hotel suite with another writer. Phil started singing and playing songs on his guitar. "Suddenly, this was the young guy from the Teddybears (Spector's late-1950s trio) again, not the great record producer" This was touching for Williams, a former Melody Maker editor turned sports writer, since the memory hung heavily when Spector, one of pop music's true eccentrics, was arrested for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in February, 2003. His trial is expected to begin Janurary 2007.
Phil Spector is perhaps the first music producer to be considered as important as the artists he worked with. Spector's trademark "Wall Of Sound" technique formed the basis for hits by groups from Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans to The Beatles. He possessed an unparalleled instinct for turning three-minute pop songs into miniature symphonies. However, he was also a man plagued by demons, exacerbated by the traumatic experience of his father's suicide and his subsequent solitary childhood after his family moved from New York to Los Angeles. This penetrating biography of the man who provided a generation of pop fans with the soundtrack of their youth, reveals the creative genius who enabled noted producers such as George Martin, Tom Dowd, Joe Meek & Bob Johnston to be seen as vital to the record-making process.
In his book, Williams traces Spector's obsession with personal security to an incident after a Teddy Bears gig in 1959: The diminutive guitarist and songwriter was locked in the men's room and urinated upon by four men. "That's the kind of thing that a small guy doesn't forget quickly," Williams says. The story might explain the tragic subtext of Spector's life, the strange mixture of reclusiveness and almost vengeful egomania, a man hiding in the dark but desperate for recognition. "I was never in the studio when he pulled a gun," says Williams. "I have no evidence of him being dangerous. I think it's a very strange fascination for someone of his other instincts to have." Just before his arrest, Spector claimed to be on medication for schizophrenia & made typically dramatic allusions to "devils inside that fight me". This brilliant 226 page (10.4 ounces) biography has 24 pages of photos; over 7 pages of a user friendly index; 2 appendixes; 9 chapters, plus an introduction and "epilogue". This now Out-Of-Print 7 3/4" x 5" softcover book was published by Omnibus Press at $14.95, and is in brand new pristine unread condition!
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