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December 26: Phil Spector

December 26, 2011

Rock and roll pioneer Phil Spector, whose career ended in violence and imprisonment, was born in the Bronx on this date in 1940. His first hit song, “To Know Him Is To Love Him,” sung by the Teddy Bears (which he formed with Marshall Lieb, Harvey Goldstein, and lead singer Annette Kleinbard), used words from the tombstone of his father, who committed suicide in 1949. Spector emerged as a major record producer with the Ronettes, for whom he co-wrote “Be My Baby” and other hits while developed his echoing “Wall of Sound” technique, involving large groups of musicians playing orchestrated parts in unison. Among the artists whose sounds were shaped by Spector were the Crystals (“Da Doo Run Run”), the Righteous Brothers, and Ike and Tina Turner. He was the producer of the Beatles’ Let It Be, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and John Lennon’s Imagine. Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997. He is currently in prison in California for second degree murder. For a sampling of his songs, click here.

“[A] Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids. . .” —Phil Spector, describing the “Wall of Sound”