To know him was to loathe him.
At least that’s the impression you get from heeding the accounts of many of those who worked with Phil Spector, the legendary record producer who died Saturday at age 81 while serving a prison sentence for murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003.
His conviction for that crime solidified Spector’s reputation as a monster. But for years before that, artists in his orbit — Darlene Love, Leonard Cohen, the Ramones and especially his ex-wife, Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes — spoke of his abuse and his manipulations; others simply hated what he did to their music, including Paul McCartney, who famously re-released the Beatles’ “Let It Be” minus Spector’s trademark embellishments.
And yet, McCartney’s scorn aside, Spector is widely — and rightly — regarded as one of the most consequential figures in pop history: a sonic visionary whose so-called wall of sound greatly expanded the dramatic scope of the three-minute love song.