THE ULTIMATE PRICE Phil Spector & Michael Jackson

Or, as we say around
the Blurt offices – “Indian Strap Match” optional… and what about that court of
public opinion?

 

BY MICHAEL PLUMIDES

 

In the opening scene of Sixties anti-thesis Easy Rider, an odd looking fellow is
chauffeured up in a Rolls Royce by his man-servant, to buy thousands of dollars
worth of cocaine from Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as the deafening sound of
jets scream overhead.

 

Interestingly, the actor portraying the customer was Phil
Spector who: a) provided his own Rolls-Royce, and b) provided his own man-servant.
There was even some speculation on whether Spector bought the coke as well for
the low-budget biker classic. He could, on a whim, volunteer such trifles to
his Hollywood buddies without concern, as Spector
was (and still is) filthy, stinking rich.

 

I know that most of you out there have a lasting memory of
the photos taken in Spector’s courtroom battle; to stay a life sentence for the
murder of a cocktail waitress, and B-movie actress, Lana Clarkson. It is
inferred that a monetary transaction took place to lure Clarkson back to
Spector’s mansion. Apparently, Spector, a manic depressive, also addicted to
prescription medication, invited many women back to his house in order to play
a particular sick game he had become accustomed. Unfortunately, Spector’s
fetish involved a loaded gun; a little too reminiscent of the film, Deer Hunter.  Although a number of women testified during
the three month trial that Spector had never actually killed anyone during this
dance with death, Spector, who had only known Clarkson for a few hours, put the
gun in Clarkson’s mouth, and “accidentally” shot her. First claiming that
Clarkson had shot herself, Spector was later damned by the testimony from an
employee working at the house. Spector, shortly after the shooting, approached
the employee and muttered in disbelief, “I think I just shot someone.” Shamefully,
he didn’t even know her name.

 

I know you have this recurring vision in your head. You
can’t shake the crazy hair (rather, wigs – that Spector displayed throughout
his trial(s) ), the absent stare, or the bad surgery. Spector, however, now 69,
didn’t turn out to be the most brilliant murderer (by the way, Spector was charged
with “2nd Degree murder” and sentenced to 19 years to life). But that
fact shouldn’t detract from the truth: Spector was a prolific songwriter and an
amazing producer who had singularly changed the face of music during the “Mono”
era, and continued to be a driving force behind many rock greats into the
1980’s. 

 

Let’s be fair. If we can all forgive a deceased alleged pederast,
Michael Jackson, for years of fondling young boys (and not denying it, mind you,
despite the convoluted legal shenanigans), and recognize his vision and talent,
then I think it necessary to recognize Spector’s vision and talent, as he deserves at least a modicum of admiration (albeit from
behind penitentiary doors, and not the Pearly Gates).

 

Phil Spector worked with some of the biggest names in the music
industry, producing and arranging legends such as Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep-Mountain High, The Ramones’ Rock and Roll High School, and The
Beatles Let it Be (later producing
solo efforts by George Harrison and John Lennon including “Imagine”).  Spector also wrote and produced “You’ve Lost
that Lovin’ Feelin’,” for The Righteous Brothers, the single most played cut in
radio history. Phil also arranged music enlisting some of the most viable
performers of the age, such as Sonny Bono, Carole King, Glen Campbell, Leonard
Cohen, Leon Russell, and Bob Dylan to name a few.

 

Spector, rivaling Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, developed
the recording technique known as the “Wall of Sound” in the 1960’s.  Arguably he produced some of the most
memorable music recorded over the last 45 years, later influencing such
producers as Brian Eno, and Don Was. In 1989, Spector was even inducted into
the Rock and Roll Hall Fame.

 

The California Department of Corrections confirms that the
legendary music producer will be relocated from the California Substance Abuse
Treatment Facility & State Prison in Corcoran, to the Pleasant Valley State
Prison in Coalinga, California. There were some rumors that
Spector, sharing the same cell block with Sirhan Sirhan, and Charles Manson,
begged to be “moved” after making claims that he “feared for his life” around
the other “hardened criminals.” Spector later recanted his claims.  Pleasant
Valley is known for
hosting a few unsavory characters, such as Eric Menendez, who along with his
brother, Lyle, were convicted of murdering their wealthy parents in 1993.

 

Phil Spector, as did Michael Jackson, fell victim to the
scourge of our society today: Prescription medication. And when you throw a
gun-fetish power trip into the mix, you have a lethal combination. The
senseless loss of life is saddening – yes.

 

But what’s equally as tragic, to a certain degree, is the
loss of Spector’s talent, and how he was trivialized due to his awkward,
outward appearance. Admittedly, the guy’s a convicted murderer.  But if you fail to examine and scrutinize
Michael Jackson’s shortcomings and continue to dismiss Jackson’s behavior, then you should afford
Phil Spector similar discretion.

 

I think Phil Spector, just as Michael Jackson, both with
their similar oddities and tastes, should be remembered for what he contributed
to the craft of recording pop music. In light of the eminent release of the Beatles Box Set, and Beatles Rock Band video game, a little
recognition is due Spector, a trade out for a lifetime of creating tunes that
we’ve all enjoyed.

 

Spector – and Jackson, too, seemingly – paid the ultimate
price.

 

Michael G. Plumides,
Jr., J.D. is the Author of
Kill The Music, available on Amazon.com

 

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