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Trivia / Phil Spector

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  • Creator Couple: With Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes. At least until they divorced.
  • One-Hit Wonder: He was one as a performer, as a member of the trio The Teddy Bears ("To Know Him is to Love Him"), then worked with a bunch as a producer.
  • Production Posse: In his classic period, Spector collaborated with a core group of people. He produced, Jack Nitzsche did the arrangements, Larry Levine was the recording engineer, Sonny Bono and Nino Tempo were Spector's assistants (though they both drifted away to focus on their own careers as performers—Bono with his wife Cher, Tempo with his sister April Stevens), and he had a few favorites among the Wrecking Crew group of L.A. session musicians that he preferred to use, like guitarists Tommy Tedesco and Barney Kessel, bassists Carol Kaye and Ray Pohlman, keyboardists Don Randi and Larry Knechtel, and drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer.
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  • Reality Subtext: His first hit, "To Know Him is to Love Him" by The Teddy Bears, was inspired by the epitaph (TO KNOW HIM WAS TO LOVE HIM) on the gravestone of his father Ben Spector, who killed himself when Phil was just 9 years old. Knowing that what is basically a teenage Torch Song was written by a young man reflecting on his father's suicide gives an interesting subtext to a few of the lyrics.
    Why can't he see?
    How blind can he be?
  • Reclusive Artist: He became this in the 1970's and didn't give any major interviews until 2007.
  • Troubled Production: Let It Be, Rock 'N' Roll, Death of a Ladies' Man and End of the Century spring to mind.
    • Not just albums. "River Deep—Mountain High" for Ike & Tina Turner was pure chaos in the studio. Spector spent over $20,000 (about $150,000 in today's money) on the session, with over 40 musicians and singers involved. The song itself was a mash-up of three different songs that co-writers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich had been working on. Turner did dozens of takes of the lead vocal, and was sweating to the point that she took off her shirt and did much of the session wearing just her bra. Its failure on the American charts (only peaking at #88 in Billboard) was something of a Creator Killer for Spector.


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