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Pop / Rock 04/02/2003

Phil Spector arrested in shooting death

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LOS ANGELES (ABC TV) - Legendary rock producer Phil Spector, who changed the course of pop music in the 1960s with his lush "Wall of Sound" recordings, was arrested for murder on Monday in the shooting death of a woman at his hilltop mansion.

Spector, the eccentric, reclusive genius behind a string of hits for girl groups the Ronettes and the Crystals as well as the Beatles, Cher and punk rockers the Ramones, was being held on $1 million bail pending an arraignment, Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokeswoman Faye Bugarin said.

Bugarin said officers were called at 5 a.m. (8 a.m. EST) to Spector's 10-bedroom, eight-bathroom "Pyrenes Castle," which stands behind wrought-iron gates on a private road in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra and found a woman who had been shot dead.
The white female victim was not immediately identified and police said they were trying to notify next-of-kin first.

Police took Spector, the recipient of two Grammy awards, into custody on suspicion of murder charges shortly after they arrived at the mansion. Spokesmen for Spector, 62, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Neighbors said the producer was rarely seen at the replica castle, which was described as a huge home with a marble entrance overlooking a middle-class neighborhood and shielded by large pine trees, but was sometimes seen coming or going in a white Rolls Royce or another car. His black Mercedes sedan stood in the driveway on Monday morning.

Tom Mestaz, who lives near the castle, said that while Spector was not there often lately he had seen lights on in the residence at night. Several neighbors reported hearing dogs barking early on Monday morning.


A pioneer in pop record production, the Bronx-born Spector is famed for his "Wall of Sound" technique that featured lush orchestration with strings, horns and additional percussion added to the spare instrumentation of rock music.

Formerly married to Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes, one of several girl groups he ushered into super-stardom, Spector developed a reputation as a temperamental, reclusive and erratic genius.

Spector got his start in the music business in 1958 as a songwriter, guitarist and backup singer for the Los Angeles group the Teddy Bears, which had a hit single with "To Know Him is to Love Him" and made him a millionaire by age 21.

Soon after the group split, Spector moved to New York to pursue a career as a songwriter and producer, working primarily with the Crystals and the Ronettes. He went on to produce records for the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Ike & Tina Turner, Eric Clapton and the Righteous Brothers. He was voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

He was hired by the Beatles to do post-production work on their "Let It Be" album, which Paul McCartney and many critics later criticized as overdone.

He also produced the first solo albums from John Lennon and George Harrison and shared a Grammy with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and others for producing the "Concert for Bangladesh" album, named album of the year for 1972. (Additional reporting by Gina Keating)

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