LOS ANGELES, CA - Phil Spector listens to the judge during sentencing in Los Angeles Criminal Courts on May 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, for the February 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. Spector was sentenced for 19-years to life. (Photo by Jae C. Hong-Pool/Getty Images)
CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of former songwriter and convicted murderer Phil Spector.


Birth date: December 26, 1939 (some sources say 1940)

Death date: January 16, 2021

Birth place: Bronx, New York

Birth name: Harvey Phillip Spector

Father: Benjamin Spector, an ironworker

Mother: Bertha Spector

Marriages: Rachelle Short (2006-2018, divorced); Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Bennett (1968-1974, divorced); Annette Merar (1959-1967, divorced)

Children: Adopted with Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Bennett: Gary, Louis and Donte; mother’s name unavailable publicly: Nicole (deceased)

Other Facts

Songwriter, producer and creator of the Sixties “Wall of Sound” style.

Produced for such groups as: the Crystals, the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner, the Righteous Brothers, Cher and the Ramones.

His father committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning when Spector was a child.

His mother moved Spector and his older sister, Shirley, to Los Angeles when he was 12.

Worked as a court stenographer to help pay tuition at UCLA.

Considered going to work at the United Nations as an interpreter.

Lived mostly in seclusion in his California mansion from the late 1970s until 2003.

During the Lana Clarkson trial, at least four women testified that Spector threatened them with a gun.


1958 - While still in high school, he forms the Teddy Bears and records his first and the group’s only hit record, “To Know Him is to Love Him.” The record goes gold and the group appears on “American Bandstand.”

1960 - Moves to New York and works as a producer and a session musician.

1960 - Goes into partnership with Lester Sill and forms the Philles label.

1962 - Buys out Lester Still and becomes sole owner of Philles Records. He closes it four years later.

1969 - Has a cameo role in the film “Easy Rider.”

1970 - Produces several tracks on “Let It Be,” the Beatles’ final album.

1972 - Wins a Grammy Award for Album of the Year as a producer of “The Concert for Bangladesh.”

1988 - Is sued by the Ronettes, including his former wife, Ronnie Bennett, for more than $10 million in royalties and licensing fees.

1989 - Is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1997 - Is inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

2001 - The Ronettes win the lawsuit against Spector and are awarded over $3 million.

2002 - The New York Court of Appeals throws out the Ronettes’ award and orders the case back to the trial court. Spector loses again and is ordered to pay the Ronettes royalties twice a year.

February 3, 2003 - Actress Lana Clarkson is shot to death in Phil Spector’s home.

November 20, 2003 - Spector is charged with Clarkson’s murder.

September 27, 2004 - Phil Spector is indicted.

March 19, 2007 - Jury selection begins in Spector’s murder trial.

April 30, 2007 - Opening statements begin, after a judge rules that the trial can be televised.

May 15, 2007 - Chauffeur Adriano Desouza testifies that right after the shooting Spector said, “I think I killed somebody.”

June 11, 2007 - DNA evidence is presented. A criminalist testifies that none of Spector’s DNA was found on the gun, but that it was found on Lana Clarkson’s body.

September 26, 2007 - The judge declares a mistrial when the jury comes back deadlocked. The district attorney’s office announces it will retry Spector.

October 2, 2008 - Jury selection in the second trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson begins.

April 13, 2009 - Spector is convicted of second-degree murder.

May 29, 2009 - Is sentenced to 19-years to life in prison.

June 2010 - Wife, Rachelle Short, releases new CD, “Out of My Chelle,” on which Spector is listed as producer. This is his first production in 30 years.

April 12, 2011 - Lawyers appear in appeals court asking to overturn Spector’s conviction in favor of a third trial in the death of Lana Clarkson on the basis that the 2009 trial was unfair.

May 2, 2011 - California 2nd District Court of Appeals rules unanimously against the defense’s contentions that Spector’s 2009 trial was unfair, and his conviction stands.

February 21, 2012 - The United States Supreme Court declines to review Spector’s murder conviction.

October 2013 - Spector is moved to the California Health Care Facility in Stockton, which treats sick inmates.

March 18, 2016 - Spector files for divorce from Rachelle Short.

December 2018 - The divorce case for Spector and Short is disposed.

January 16, 2021 - According to a statement released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Spector dies of natural causes. His exact cause of death has not been announced by the medical examiner for San Joaquin County.