From our friends at PopTonic:
Phil Spector, a monumentally influential music producer — and convicted murderer — died Saturday, January 16, at the age of 81.
Ronnie Spector remembered her ex-husband as a “brilliant producer, but a lousy husband.”
The former producer’s death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. And while the cause of death is being labeled “natural causes,” Spector was diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks prior. A medical examiner will determine the official cause of death.
“California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 pm on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital,” officials said in a statement. However, they also said, “His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.”
Ronnie Spector, famed for fronting the girl group The Ronettes, remembered her ex-husband and Ronettes’ producer in an Instagram post Sunday.
“It’s a sad day for music and a sad day for me,” Ronnie began her post. “When I was working with Phil Spector, watching him create in the recording studio, I knew I was working with the very best. He was in complete control, directing everyone. So much to love about those days.”
She continued, “Meeting him and falling in love was like a fairytale. The magical music we were able to make together, was inspired by our love. I loved him madly, and gave my heart and soul to him.”
Phil and Ronnie were married in 1968, the year after The Ronettes broke up. However, it was no fairytale marriage. As Ronnie wrote in her memoir Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette, Phil was awful — to say the least.
He was an abusive husband prone to outlandish behavior. Ronnie details that Phil kept a coffin in the basement of their mansion, which served as a threat that he would kill her if she ever left him.
But the years of psychological torment and being sequestered in the California mansion came to an end in 1972. She managed to escape barefoot with the help of her mother. The divorce was then finalized in 1974, and Ronnie moved back to New York.
Despite the physically and psychologically abusive marriage, Ronnie seemed to have a forgiving tone in the wake of Phil Spector’s death.
“As I said many times while he was alive, he was a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband,” she wrote. “Unfortunately Phil was not able to live and function outside of the recording studio. Darkness set in, many lives were damaged.”
She added, “I still smile whenever I hear the music we made together, and always will. The music will be forever.”
At the time of his death, Phil had been serving time in prison. In 2009, he was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his mansion on the edge of Los Angeles. As a result, he was given a sentence of 19 years to life in prison.
According to TMZ, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks ago, and was transferred from his prison cell to a hospital. He recovered well enough to return to prison, but sources say he relapsed. He had trouble breathing and was taken back to the hospital, where he died on Saturday.