Disgraced record producer, musician and songwriter Phil Spector died while serving a prison sentence at age 81, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector, , was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital,” the facility wrote on Sunday, January 17. “His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.”
Spector is perhaps best known in the music industry for developing the Wall of Sound, a music production formula he described as an approach to rock and roll derived from the teachings of German composer Richard Wagner.
In 1958, he began his career as the founding guitarist and vocalist of the Teddy Bears. He wrote the band’s chart-topping US single, “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” which put him on the map. Throughout the 1960s, he wrote and produced records for Ike & Tina Turner, the Ronettes and the Crystals, among other popular acts. However, in 1966, he retired from the industry.
Three years later, Spector came out of retirement to produce The Beatles‘ final album, Let It Be, which was released in May 1970. That year, he produced the iconic track “The Long and Winding Road” for the group, as well as “My Sweet Lord” for member George Harrison’s first solo record. Both topped the charts, and subsequently, Spector went on to produce several records for both Harrison and John Lennon following their legendary band’s breakup.
Spector was honored with the 1973 Grammy Award for Album of the Year for his work coproducing Harrison’s album Concert for Bangladesh. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997.
After spending nearly 30 years away from his musical roots, Spector was convicted for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson in April 2009. The Scarface star was killed inside Spector’s California mansion and her body was found with a single gunshot wound to her mouth. He was charged with second-degree murder and was serving 19 years to life at the time of his death.