After winning fame with the Teddy Bears as a 19-year-old musical wunderkind, Spector became known for his “Wall of Sound” production style. He used his money to build a lavish lifestyle, including a French chateau-style home that’s now for sale.
But his reputation took a hit in 2009 when he was convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. So who got his money?
His Wife Ronnie
In 2009, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder for the 2003 killing of actress Lana Clarkson. He was found guilty at his retrial after his first trial had ended in a deadlock with the jury.
Clarkson, a statuesque beauty with an extensive resume of B-movie roles, had been working the door at House of Blues on one of her benders when she met Spector and agreed to meet him again at his home, Pyrenees Castle. That would prove to be a deadly mistake.
Joyce and Argott’s docuseries is riveting, not only in its forensics-heavy presentation of Spector’s culpability but also its overt desire to restore the good name of Clarkson, a hardworking B-movie actress denigrated by both her defense team and the media in the wake of her death.
His Children Donte and Lewis
During his time away from the public eye, Spector fathered Donte and Lewis. It is unclear how much the two children received from their father’s vast production royalties and net worth.
Spector began his career in music with a group called the Teddy Bears, who recorded their first hit single in 1958. It was called “To Know Him is to Love Him,” a romantic ballad that came from the inscription on his father’s tombstone.
As a young man, Spector was befriended by the high-living musicians of New York’s famous Brill Building. The producer used his connections to get sessions with top lyricists and composers, including the duo Leiber and Stoller.
When Blondie’s Debbie Harry asked Spector to produce her, he took out his handgun and pointed it at her feet. He claimed he was just protecting her from gangs. After his conviction for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, Spector was sentenced to 19 years in prison. He died in 2021 at age 81 of COVID-19 while serving his sentence.
His Adopted Sons Gary and Lewis
PHIL SPECTOR, 81, a disgraced music producer who was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003, died today. He contracted COVID-19 while serving 19 years in prison for her slaying, according to California prison authorities.
Spector was a fabulist and megalomaniac with a penchant for telling tall tales, but also for treating professional collaborators with contempt. He badgered songwriters like Ertegun and Stoller into working with him; but he also double-crossed them. He once got into a verbal spat with the boss of Hill & Range, Don Kirshner, and then showed up in his office with a pair of bodyguards — and instructed one to kick an inch from Kirshner’s face.
He was a womanizer from the start, pursuing girlfriends and even a 22-year-old waitress and aspiring singer he tried to launch as a star. He was also known for using his production studio like a gunfight pit, holding musicians and stars at pistol point to get them to sing the way he wanted.
His Publishing Rights
During his brief run as a singer with the Teddy Bears, Spector figured out that his real talent was in producing and arranging music. He developed a style known as the Wall of Sound, which used the recording studio as an instrument itself to create roaring orchestral swells that drowned out vocals. He went on to produce acts like the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Ike & Tina Turner. His hits, including “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” are among the most popular and valuable songs of the 20th century.
At the time of his murder trial, Spector was worth a reported $50 million. He also owned the publishing rights to many of his most famous hits, which could be worth tens of millions of dollars a year in royalties. The heirs to his publishing empire are likely to be a mix of his family members and the people who worked with him during his brief musical career.