The murderer and musical genius: How Phil Spector killed actress – and why daughter is ‘trying to clear his name’ | US News

Two years after the death of music producer and convicted murderer Phil Spector, a controversial attempt to clear his name is understood to be underway.

Widely hailed as a musical genius for his work with the likes of The Righteous Brothers, Tina Turner and The Beatles, Spector spent the last years of his life in prison after being found guilty of murdering actress Lana Clarkson .

The 40-year-old was shot dead at Spector’s sprawling California mansion, known as the Castle of the Pyrenees, in February 2003, in an incident that sent shockwaves across Hollywood and beyond.

Spector – who died in prison at the age of 81 after contracting COVID – has always maintained his innocence, claiming that Clarkson “kissed the gun” and shot himself on his property.

A photograph of Phil Spector.  Photo: Sky UK/Michael Ochs . Archives
Snapshot of Phil Spector after his arrest. Photo: Sky UK/Michael Ochs . Archives

It’s a version of events that the producer’s daughter still believes is real, according to the directors of a new Sky documentary.

The four-part series delves into the lives of Spector and Clarkson and investigates the infamous murder at his home.

Nicole Spector agreed to an interview for the show, in which she claimed her father was “easy prey” for prosecutors, and evidence heard at his trial showed “it was immediately clear that you can’t pull the trigger.”

Nicole Spector gives evidence during her father's murder trial in 2007. Photo: AP
Nicole Spector gives evidence during her father’s murder trial in 2007. Photo: AP

Director Sheena Joyce told Sky News: “She feels very strongly that Lana took her own life and she believes the forensic evidence supports that.

“I didn’t know she would change her mind about that.”

Joyce said Nicole is still “angry” and “broken” that her father has spent more than a decade in prison for a crime she believes he did not commit.

And Spector’s daughter is “trying to get the Innocence Project (which works to clear people wrongly convicted of crimes) behind the case and vindicate her father,” according to the documentary’s producer.

Review the evidence

Phi Spector.  Photo: Sky UK/Photoshot/Everett Collection
Spector wore various wigs during his court appearances. Photo: Sky UK/Photoshot/Everett Collection

During Spector’s first trial – which ended with the jury being hanged – and his subsequent retrial, when he was found guilty of murder, defense attorneys argued that “There is no physical evidence” that Spector pulled the trigger that killed Clarkson.

“No fingerprints were found (on the gun). There was no DNA on the gun. He had no gunshot wounds,” Spector’s trial attorney, Linda Kenney Baden, told the documentary. Whether. She also highlighted the obvious lack of blood in the white coat Spector wore the night Clarkson died.

Don Argott, who directed the documentary with Joyce, said that the pair “keep an open mind” about Spector’s conviction as they review transcripts, documents and video evidence shown at the trial. judge him.

But both filmmakers believe the jury’s verdict was correct in the Spector retrial.

Joyce said: “I think it’s ludicrous to think that (Lana Clarkson) walked into a stranger’s house, rummaged through (Spector’s) things, found a gun and shot herself in the face.

Phil Spector and his daughter Nicole.  Photo: Sky UK/ZUMA Press Inc/Alamy Stock Photo
Phil Spector and his daughter Nicole. Photo: Sky UK/ZUMA Press Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

“We’ve looked at the forensic evidence and it doesn’t exonerate Phil Spector.

“(Nicole) will keep what she needs to keep.

“For us, it was clear that Phil Spector did it.”

“I can’t change Nicole’s mind,” Argott added.

“She has her truth and that’s what she clings to. I have no right to say it’s wrong or dismiss it.

“I really think she had a hard time reconciling the beautiful man her father had for her… with his portrayal of a murderer. She couldn’t get it right. there.

“She’s holding onto elements of the investigation she thinks are the smoking gun to whitewash her father, and that’s where she is.”

The Innocence Project said it could not comment on whether it was involved in the effort to whitewash Spector, while his daughter Nicole also declined to comment when approached by Sky News.

The label ‘B-class actress’

Lana starred in a show called Savage Queen.  Photo: © Sky UK/Imago Images/ Mary Evans
Lana Clarkson starred in the movie Barbarian Queen. Photo: Sky UK/Imago Images/ Mary Evans

Along with uncovering the murder itself, the documentary examines the media reporting at the time of Clarkson’s death, who repeatedly referred to her as a “B-movie actress”.

She has had a string of film and television credits, appearing in the 1980 hit Fast Times At Ridgemont High and opposite David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider.

When she first met Spector the night she was killed, Clarkson was working as a hostess at the House of Blues club on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip.

Joyce said describing Clarkson as a “B-movie actress” is “short for disposable”.

Lana Clarkson.  Photo: Sky UK
Lana Clarkson first met Spector just hours before she was killed. Photo: Sky UK

“Putting a nickname like ‘B-movie actress’ in front of her name kind of shows that she’s desperate, she’s about to get there, she’s asking for it,” the director said.

“It’s a very quick way to draw a story about someone.

“It was important to us to make sure that Lana was more than just a footnote in Phil Spector’s story.

“We wanted her to be a completely carnal character.”

Lana Clarkson.  Photo: Sky UK/WireImage/ Albert L Ortega
Photo: Sky UK/WireImage/ Albert L Ortega

Clarkson’s mother, Donna, was interviewed in the documentary but Joyce admitted she had “quite a bit of hesitation” about participating.

“Sometimes people find it hard to see the positive side of being involved in something like this,” she said.

“They are talking about the most painful thing that has happened to them.

“And they’re bracing for disappointment and ridicule. It’s ripping through old wounds.

“It was important to us that she understood that we really wanted to portray (Lana) as a real character and not a footnote in Phil Spector’s story.

“It took some persuasion but she eventually trusted us and I feel we did the right thing for her.”

How Phil Spector Was Convicted Of Killing Lana Clarkson

  • Phil Spector met a friend for dinner in Los Angeles on the evening of February 2, 2003, where multiple witnesses said he had been drinking heavily.
  • Later that evening, he took a waitress to House of Blues on LA’s Sunset Strip, where he was introduced to actress Lana Clarkson, who was working as a hostess at the venue.
  • Spector invited Clarkson to his mansion in Alhambra, California, and the two were driven there by his driver Adriano De Souza.
  • At dawn on 3 February 2003, Mr De Souza said he heard noises from inside Spector’s property and the producer opened the door with a gun in his hand and said: ‘I think my boss killed someone.’
  • Officers arrived and found Mrs. Clarkson’s dead body lying on a chair with a gunshot wound to the mouth.
  • Spector was arrested and initially told police that “the gun accidentally went off”, before saying Ms Clarkson had killed herself.
  • Spector’s televised trial began in March 2007 but the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
  • A retrial – which was not televised – began in October 2008, resulting in Spector being found guilty of murder. He was jailed in May 2009 for at least 19 years.

‘Musical genius’ commits ‘heinous crime’

Phi Spector.  Photo: Sky UK/Michael Ochs . Archives
Phil Spector is known for his ‘wall of sound’. Photo: Sky UK/Michael Ochs . Archives

Some media coverage of Spector’s death was criticized at the time, with the BBC apologizing for a headline describing the convicted killer as “talented but flawed”.

Joyce said “a lot of people were probably upset with us when we acknowledged his musical genius” in the documentary.

“He’s a murderer, he’s committed a heinous crime. He’s been abusing women for decades. That’s absolutely true,” the director said.

“He’s also a musical genius. One doesn’t negate the other, but you really can’t reconcile the two.”

Phil Spector with Ike and Tina Turner.  Photo: Sky UK/1960 Ray Avery/ Premium Archive
Phil Spector with Ike and Tina Turner. Photo: Sky UK/1960 Ray Avery/ Premium Archive

Spector was just 17 years old when he hit the top 10 hits in the US, performing with the Teddy Bears on their song To Know Him Is To Love Him.

However, he is best known as a producer, working with some of the biggest stars in music and creating his “sound wall” recording technique, with effects dense layers.

A millionaire at the age of 21, Spector created hits for Ike and Tina Turner, The Ronettes, The Ri Right Brothers, Cher, Bruce Springsteen and The Beatles, producing the band’s final album Let It Be. He also worked with John Lennon on Imagine.

The 1965 song You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, co-written by Spector, is on the record for most broadcasts in the United States of the 20th century.

Phil Spector and the Righteous Brothers.  Photo: Sky UK/Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo
Phil Spector and the Righteous Brothers. Photo: Sky UK/Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

When asked if it’s possible to listen to Spector’s music now without thinking about him being murdered, Joyce said: “It’s a tough question – how do you separate art from artist?

“Can you separate art from artist? That’s not a question for which we have a definite answer. Everyone’s path is different.

“I think it’s easier for people to still listen to Phil Spector’s music because he’s not a singer – he’s the guy behind the scenes.

“I can’t imagine Christmas without his Christmas album.

Phi Spector.  Photo: Sky UK/Michael Ochs . Archives
Phi Spector. Photo: Sky UK/Michael Ochs . Archives

“That said, while he was a genius music producer, he abused women and murdered people and you can’t separate that.

“There is no clear answer and I think everyone has their own answer.

“Don’t we watch movies made by Harvey Weinstein because he’s a monster? Everyone’s lines will be different.”

Spector Sky Documentary.  Photo: Sky UK

Spector is available to watch on Sky Documentaries and the streaming service NOW.


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