Wednesday, March 12, 2003
I haven't really followed too closely the recent arrest of legendary rock producer Phil Spector in connection with the shooting death of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, mainly because it seems like this should have happened a long time ago - or was predestined to unfold as it has.
Over the years I've read numerous accounts of Spector's over-the-top bizarre behavior, like listening to a single note for six hours straight, or brandishing a gun in his recording studio, reportedly threatening artists John Lennon, Leonard Cohen and members of the Ramones:
from NBC4 in Los Angeles: Spector's last major album was a collaboration with the Ramones, 1980's "End of the Century." During the session, the late bassist Dee Dee Ramone said Spector pulled a gun on the band. "A lot of these things were overblown and a lot of these things were alcohol-induced," Marky Ramone said. "You can have a gun and wave it around but that doesn't mean you're gonna use it. ... There's no way Phil would have shot Dee Dee Ramone."Now the case has taken a Hollywood twist; Spector allegedly sent an e-mail Monday saying that Clarkson's death was an accidental suicide. Just what kind of legal defense is an "accidental suicide"? However the facts eventually come out, I bet there's an insanity defense being cooked up as we speak: his chief attorney is Robert Shapiro, of the OJ Simpson case, so we can be certain that loads of obfuscating horsepuckeys will be strewn. Mark Ribowsky, author of Spector bio "He's a Rebel" said to Newsweek:
He was always a great dilettante. So in the ’60s, when this whole thing with the bodyguards started coming up, he had to have the best bodyguards, the best guns. In the ’70s and ’80s, when you would mention Phil Spector to anybody, the first thing they would talk about would be the guns. So you always have this possibility, but nobody actually thought he could shoot anybody, and that’s what makes this so crazy. ...[But] he is not a sweet man. He is a loathsome man with an instinct to hurt people and use people for his own good. He has regarded people as mere garbage to be discarded. He never repaid people’s kindness. He’s never been a sweet man. He’s been a horrible man.And as for the Lennon gun story, Ribowsky says:
"when Spector was back on his turf, in Los Angeles rather than in London, he just did not let Lennon be Lennon. He was another studio musician to Spector, and when John would [complain], Spector would have none of it. When he wanted to do a vocal, Spector would put it off for hours and hours. And finally he said, “Phil, let’s get to my vocal here,” and Spector exploded and shot a hole into the ceiling of [the] A&M studio. They framed the bullet hole on the ceiling as a great moment in history. Lennon’s classic line was, “If you’re going to kill me, Phil, kill me, but don’t f—k with my ears.”Call me a cynic, but Phil's probably just a nutter, after all...an eccentric who needs to get some attention before his fortunes fail utterly.
Ribowsky concludes in his Newsweek interview,
"He’s 62, been out of the public spotlight for so long. Maybe this is his comeback."Some pathetic excuse for a comeback. But now I'm a bit more curious about the outcome, because it's so operatic: two has-beens may actually get their wish for returned fame and notoriety, one killed in the process. If she hadn't died of a gunshot wound in Phil Spector's foyer, most of us would probably never have heard of Lana Clarkson.
Sadly, one truism of the meatgrinder world of entertainment is that it's better to be famous and dead, than to not be famous at all.