He had a number one hit at eighteen. He was a millionaire with his own record label at twenty-two. He was, according to Tom Wolfe, “the first tycoon of teen.” Phil Spector owned pop music. From the Crystals, the Ronettes (whose lead singer, Ronnie, would become his second wife), and the Righteous Brothers to the Beatles (together and singly) and finally the seventies punk icons The Ramones, Spector produced hit after hit. But then he became pop music's most famous recluse. Until one day in the spring of 2007, when his name hit the tabloids, connected to a horrible crime. In Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, Mick Brown, who was the last journalist to interview Spector before his arrest, tells the full story of the troubled musical genius.
This eminently readable and thoroughly researched biography from U.K. 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.