From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This eminently readable and thoroughly researched biography from UK journalist and author Brown (The Dance of 17 Lives) chronicles the roller-coaster life of legendary (and legendarily bizarre) music producer Phil Spector, a man propelled by genius, insecurity, paranoia and rage. Spector's career was off and running before his 20th birthday, when he penned and produced the 1958 Teddy Bears' hit, "To Know Him is to Love Him." Soon enough, Spector was perched atop the industry, a dazzling figure in flashy suits and six-inch Cuban-heeled boots who produced dozens of hits for the Crystals, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers, worked with the Beatles and the Ramones, and defined the "Wall of Sound" technique that would change audio forever and bring the first strains of pop music into the world of serious art. And yet, Spector remained anxious, paranoid and vengeful ("the little guy rubbing the big guy's nose in it"), secluding himself for years at a time and prone to unpredictable, dangerous outbursts-in other words, a time bomb. Brown makes a chilling account of Spector's most recent brush with detonation-the 2003 shooting death of a woman in Spector's home-in a chapter titled, "I Think I Killed Somebody," featuring new interviews and grand jury testimony released in 2005. Stacked with incredible anecdotes, Brown's entertaining and nuanced portrait lifts the fog of myth and outright falsehood (including Spector's own) that have obscured the celebrity producer (like an enormous, gravity-defying wig) through the years.
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Strange that a major biography of rock impresario Spector appears during, not after, his murder trial. Of course, with the prosecution proceeding at a supremely glacial pace, a verdict could be years away. Will anyone care by then? They should, because Spector's is the story of a guy who became a millionaire before he could vote, whose "wall of sound" recording techniques swamped the early 1960s pop charts with hits by the Ronettes, the Crystals, the Righteous Brothers, and others. The Ramones' End of the Century in 1980 was his last production until 2003, in which year actress Lana Clarkson died of a gunshot wound to the head at Spector's mansion. Did he shoot her, or was it, as he swears, suicide? Brown doesn't hazard a choice, but he does deliver an exciting biography, thanks to Spector's long history of recreational drug use, monumental temper tantrums, and gun-brandishing threats directed at an array of impressive people. Stay tuned to Court TV for the rest of the story. Tribby, Mike
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