COLUMN EIGHTY-SIX, MARCH 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
PHIL SPECTOR POSTS BAIL AFTER DEATH OF WOMAN IN HIS HOME--LAWYER FRIEND SAYS SHOOTING WAS 'TRAGIC ACCIDENT'
L.A. attorney Marvin
Mitchelson says he's '100% certain' that actress' shooting was 'not a homicide.'
FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
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
in the face
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
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
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. ##
* * *
THE VICTIM: AN ACTRESS
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
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.
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."
LANA CLARKSON MOVIE SHOTS
* * *
PHIL SPECTOR: MAD GENIUS
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
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
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
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
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
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.")
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
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
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
* * *
SPECTOR POSTS BAIL
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
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
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.
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
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
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. ##
CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT PHIL SPECTOR
CLICK HERE FOR STILL MORE ABOUT PHIL SPECTOR
CLICK HERE FOR STILL MORE ABOUT PHIL SPECTOR
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN EIGHTY-SIX
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
The Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ