(Copyright 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)



L.A. attorney Marvin Mitchelson says he's '100% certain' that actress' shooting was 'not a homicide.'


By Richard Winton and Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writers

LOS ANGELES February 12, 2003---Record producer Phil Spector, arrested on suspicion of murder, will contend the shooting death of an actress at his Alhambra mansion last week was accidental, one of his closest friends said Tuesday.

"I understand his defense will be that this was a tragic accident," said Marvin M. Mitchelson, a Los Angeles attorney who travels frequently with Spector.

He declined to describe how the Feb. 3 shooting of Lana Clarkson in Spector's foyer might have occurred.

"I've spoken with various individuals connected with the case, and I'm 100% certain it's not a homicide," Mitchelson said, adding that he has not spoken directly with Spector since his arrest.

Spector, 62, remains free at a secret location on $1-million bond pending a March 3 court

Actress Lana Clarkson
was shot
in the face

appearance. Sheriff's homicide detectives are not expected to present a case for prosecution to the district attorney's office until shortly before that date.

Sheriff's Capt. Frank Merriman said his investigators will take the time necessary to build their case.

Spector's attorney, Robert Shapiro, has refused to discuss the case pending the filing of charges.

Clarkson, 40, apparently was in the foyer when she was shot in the face, law enforcement sources said.

Arriving officers found Spector in the same foyer and subdued him with a Taser-like device, sources said. A handgun was found nearby.

The officers had responded to a 911 call from a chauffeur who had driven Spector and Clarkson to the house, and was outside in Spector's Mercedes-Benz when he heard gunfire, investigators said.

Sheriff's investigators are still trying to account for the sequence of events leading up to the shooting.  

Spector had visited the House of Blues, the Sunset Strip club where Clarkson worked as a hostess. Employees saw her leave with him when her shift ended about 2:30 a.m. ##

* * *



Just hours before Lana Clarkson was found dead in producer Phil Spector's Los Angeles area mansion early Monday, the two were seen leaving the Sunset Strip House of Blues, where the actress worked.

Clarkson was a hostess in the Foundation Room, the West Hollywood club's VIP section, but she had only worked there for a few weeks, according to a House of Blues spokesperson.

Although Spector's friends have said the producer was a frequent customer at the Foundation Room, an employee said Spector had not been seen with Clarkson prior to early Monday morning.

Former Judas Priest singer Rob Halford performed at the club on Sunday night, but the employee said Spector didn't arrive until around 2 a.m. Monday, leaving with Clarkson an hour later. The employee said others left with the couple, but only Clarkson was seen getting into the producer's car.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which is investigating the slaying (see "Woman Slain At Phil Spector's Mansion Identified"), would not comment on Spector's relationship with Clarkson or other details of the case.

Other police sources have said they believe Clarkson was killed by a single gunshot and that officers spent Tuesday combing through Spector's mansion in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra for evidence.

Authorities have set a March 3 arraignment date for Spector, who applied his influential Wall of Sound production technique to artists ranging from the Beatles to the Ramones.

Actress worked
as hostess in
VIP section of House of Blues

Spector had a reputation as a violent recluse (see "Phil Spector: Mad Genius, By Kurt Loder"), although friends have spoken out since his arrest, saying he is harmless.

Clarkson was a star of B-movie classics like Amazon Women on the Moon but also appeared in the hits Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Scarface.

"Lana was a beautiful woman, a wonderful actress, and an adventurous spirit," Roger Corman, who directed her Barbarian Queen and other movies, said in a statement. "Always brave, she performed all of her own stunts and showed unusual fortitude and athleticism in her horseback riding and fight sequences."

Roderick J. Lindblom, Clarkson's lawyer, issued a statement thanking "Lana's extended family, friends and fans for the outpouring of love and support that they have shown during this extremely difficult time."

                           "Corey Moss   ##


* * *


By Kurt Loder (February 4. 2003)

The arrest of the renowned record producer Phil Spector on a murder charge on Monday was one of the most startling true-crime bulletins out of the music business since the similar arrest, in 1961, of country star Spade Cooley, for kicking to death his estranged wife in front of their 14-year-old daughter.

There have been many great rock-and-pop producers?Rick Rubin, for example, who's done some of the best of the Red Hot Chili Peppers albums; and Butch Vig, best known for his work with Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins. But none of them has changed the sound of popular music as much as Phil Spector did. Over the years since he made his greatest records, however, Spector has become an increasingly odd and isolated character.

Born in the Bronx, New York, in 1940, Spector became a jazz piano and guitar prodigy. After his father committed suicide, and he moved with his mother to Los Angeles, he scored his first hit record with his own group, the Teddy Bears, in 1958. The song was called To Know Him Is to Love Him, a phrase taken from his father's tombstone. (It was also a 1987 hit, in a trio version, by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.)

Spector went on to create and record some of the greatest girl-group and post-doo-wop records of the early 1960s'the Crystals' Da Doo Ron Ron and the Ronettes' Be My Baby and Baby, I Love You among them. (These songs have subsequently been covered by everyone from the Beach Boys to Patti Smith and the Ramones).

Spector's records were recorded in a style that became known as the "Wall of Sound." Working in a very small Hollywood studio called Gold Star, he would assemble massive groups of studio musicians'three guitarists, two bassists, two or three pianists, drummers, ercussionists'to create an enormous mono sound that would burst through radio speakers of the time like rock and roll thunder. These epochal hits (later saluted in a famous three-minute Steadicam shot in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas) heralded an era in which the producer became the star.

They were so universally popular that the writer Tom Wolfe, then at the height of his own pop-analytical powers, was motivated to profile Spector, in a 1965 magazine article, as The First Tycoon of Teen. Spector was only 21 years old, and he was a millionaire. At the time, he said, "I

Phil became
a famous

have a tremendous yearning?a yearning to be respected, a yearning to be accepted. I see this in teenagers?a yearning to do things, to be someone, to be important and to be recognized." His own work, he said, "is an emotional music for an emotional generation."

The Ronettes had started out as go-go dancers at a New York discotheque called the Peppermint Lounge (one of the Beatles' first stops on their first visit to the U.S. in 1964). Spector eventually married Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett, the group's leader. Much later, in a 1983 documentary by filmmaker Binia Tymieniecka that aired on England's Channel Four (from which I will liberally quote hereafter), she said of her ex-husband: "I think Phil was a very normal person at the beginning of his career. But as time went on, they started writing about him being a genius. And he said, 'Yeah, I am a genius.' And then they would say, 'He's the mad genius.' And so he became the mad genius."

In 1966, Spector made what may have been the greatest record of his career, River Deep - Mountain High, by Ike and Tina Turner. (Actually by Tina Turner?Ike wasn't invited to participate.) The record bombed, and Spector was stunned. His wife, Ronnie, said he became abusive, keeping her a virtual prisoner in their mansion and, at one point, threatening to have a hit man kill her. She once told me that she and Cher?who was at the time married to Spector acolyte Sonny Bono?would secretly sneak out to rendezvous at a sidewalk mailbox and share lamentations.

Phil Spector moved on. He did a cameo as a cocaine dealer in the 1969 hippie-hit movie Easy Rider. He produced the John Lennon hit Imagine, and the ex-Beatle's classic Plastic Ono Band album. He also produced George Harrison's first post-Beatles solo outing, All Things Must Pass.

But his last even semi-substantial hit (and "hit" is putting it too grandly) was the under-appreciated 1980 Ramones album, End of the Century. The Ramones?a great American band who'd never had a hit?figured Spector was the guy they needed, because he was a producer from the era they most revered. Phil was not appreciative. "If you need a big-name producer," he said, "go find one. If you want Phil Spector to produce you, then I'll consider it." (Modesty was a concept with which he was unacquainted: He once referred to other producers as "amateurs, students and bad clones of yours truly.")

Spector's collaboration with the Ramones was ill-starred. Johnny Ramone complained that Phil spent 12 hours contemplating the opening chord of Rock and Roll High School. And Dee Dee Ramone said, "He wasn't the most friendly guy I've ever met. He tried to be friends, but then he had guns on him, and he wouldn't let me out of his house for a couple of days.  never met anybody [else] like him and I hope I never do."

The subject of Phil and guns inevitably arises in any discussion of the man. Guns, and bodyguards, with guns of their own. At his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, he walked out onto the stage surrounded by three very heavy-looking gentlemen, each of whom had one hand stuck menacingly into his tuxedo jacket?gripping a gat, apparently. Phil, who was obviously ripped, yammered on and on about this and that? so long that the late, ill-tempered show producer, Bill Graham, ran out onstage and slammed a note onto the speaker's podium encouraging him to shut up and move on. Spector finally relented, and reeled off to leave the stage. There were a few steps to walk down, however, and when he reached the last one, he stumbled, and went hurtling off into the arms of whoever caught him.

Spector, in his long latter-days, became a famous recluse. He did contemplate making a comeback in the mid-'90s, after seeing Celine Dion singing a version of River Deep - Mountain Hig" on TV one night. But after spending a month in the studio with the singer, he stormed off, ranting about Dion's handlers and their lack of respect for his legendary talents. ("You don't tell Shakespeare what plays to write," he groused, "or how to write them.") He recently told the British writer Mick Brown that he was taking medication for schizophrenia ("But I wouldn't say I'm schizophrenic"). "I have devils inside," he said, "that fight me."

All of Phil Spector's greatest work is collected in a 1991 box set called Back to Mono. It's still available. I gave it five stars in a Rolling Stone review at the time, and believe me, it rules. If John Frusciante of the Chili Peppers is now investigating this kind of music? very much based in black vocal harmonies?I think that's a sign it may never die. But then I think it'll never die anyway. As for Phil Spector himself, one of the great creators of rock and roll music, I wish him the best in his latest turmoil. But I recall that Spade Cooley got life.

* * *

SPECTOR POSTS BAIL                   Wednesday, February 5, 2003 Posted: 6:47 PM EST (2347 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) --Phil Spector, the record producer whose "Wall of Sound" backed up rock groups from the Ronettes to the Ramones, was arrested Monday in the early morning shooting death of a woman inside his sprawling suburban mansion.

Bond for Spector, 62, was set at $1 million, which he posted late Monday, according to a bail bondsman with direct knowledge of the case.

The district attorney's office said an arraignment date hasn't been scheduled.

Earlier Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Westin said Spector had been taken to a medical facility because he complained of feeling sick but was then brought back to a holding facility in Alhambra, near Los Angeles.

Police were first alerted to something amiss when they received a 9-1-1 call from inside Spector's Alhambra home at 5:02 a.m. (8:02 ET), Sheriff's Deputy Richard Pena said. One of Spector's neighbors also said she heard what sounded like "firecrackers" around 5 a.m.

When police arrived, they found the body of Los Angeles resident Lana Clarkson, 40, in the home's front foyer. Officials did not release any other information about the victim.

Police did confirm they found a gun.

"The victim was pronounced dead at the scene," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Faye Bugarin said.

Police records show Spector was arrested at 6:09 a.m. Homicide detectives arrived about an hour later.

Spector's black Mercedes sedan, its driver's side door standing open, was encircled by yellow crime scene tape.

Pena said six homicide detectives, specialists from the county crime lab and coroner's office processed the scene and gathered evidence from inside the home Monday afternoon, after they obtained a search warrant.

"We're trying to determine what happened here late last night or early this morning," said Lt. Dan Rosenberg of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department homicide unit.

Phil is being represented
by his friend,
OJ lawyer Robert Shapiro

Neighbor Susan Georgino said Spector's mansion was once a 28-room hotel.

Another neighbor, Steve Morales, described Spector as "very quiet, other than maybe having a few parties."

Prominent defense attorney Robert Shapiro told CNN he is representing Spector. Shapiro was part of football star O.J. Simpson's winning legal team in his 1995 murder trial.

Attorney Marvin Mitchelson, a close friend of Spector's, told The Associated Press the producer lived alone and didn't have a girlfriend.

Mitchelson said he and Spector had been trying to put together a movie about Spector's life. "His mental state has been great -- very rational, very together," the lawyer said.

Spector's trademark was the "Wall of Sound," the layering of instrumental tracks and percussion that underpinned a string of hits on his Phillies label in the early 1960s.

The roaring arrangements were the heart of what he called "little symphonies for the kids" -- among them No. 1 hits like the Ronettes' Be My Baby and the Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Loving Feeling.

Spector co-produced The Beatles' final album, Let It Be, and worked with ex-Beatles George Harrison and John Lennon on solo projects after the group broke up. His recording of Harrison's 1971 benefit concert for war relief in Bangladesh won the 1972 Grammy award for Album of the Year.

The last major album he produced was The Ramones' End of the Century, in 1980.

Spector married Ronettes singer Veronica Bennett in 1968, but the couple divorced in 1974.

In October, New York's state Supreme Court threw out a $3 million award against Spector in a lawsuit filed by his ex-wife and the other two members of the Ronettes, seeking royalties for the sale of their recordings for use in movies and commercials.

CNN Correspondent Paul Vercammen and Producer Michelle Harrosh contributed to this report.  ##






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