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From One Snow Queen to Another

The Spector of Violence

Bensargent Ben Sargent is one of my favorite political cartoonists. This one particularly captured my feelings lately.

The Phil Spector trial has begun this week with cameras in the courtroom. Must 3-year old Maggie down the street be subjected to the ravings and hairstyles of a mad Los Angeles courtroom? Well, maybe she should. "Never get in the car with crazy record producers, Maggie. Learn to produce your own records."

There’s a very poignant recap of the Spector saga written by Joe Domanick in the Los Angeles Magazine. Although some of the Cher's biographies and Ronnie Spector’s book do cover Phil history, I learned a few fun facts about him in the LA Magazine article.

On the positive side, Domanick describes Spector as the first rock-star producer of the 60s with a "transformative vision that combined the raw power of juke-joint blues with the energy of teeny-bopper pop." Domanick states that Spector "took youth culture into the realm of the operatic" and that his singles had an almost "Wagnerian force." Spector worked on Beatle-related classics such as "The Long and Winding Road," "Let it Be," George Harrison’s "My Sweet Lord," and John Lennon’s "Imagine." Bruce Springsteen’s "Born to Run" was inspired by Spector, as were the bands The Killers, Nine Inch Nails, and The Shins, according to Domanick’s piece.

On the negative side...his parents were first cousins and his father committed suicide by the car-and-carbon-dioxide method when Phil was 8. As a child. Domanick describes Spector as an "asthmatic elfin misfit." His mother and sister were allegedly domineering. Does that neccessarily cause issues with women? Early girlfriends comment on Phil's early struggles with anger and jealousy. He’s been in therapy since 1965 and was on the wagon for a year prior to the incident with Lana Clarkson; however, prior to that he pulled guns on various dates and musicians including Stevie Wonder Dee Dee Ramone and Leonard Cohen. He also allegedly fired a round when producing John Lennon.

I dread following this story. More gun violence issues, hooray. But as Cher Scholar, I feel compelled to keep a side-glance on it. Spector and his minions were a big part of the Sonny & Cher sound, pre-Snuff Garrett.

Cher sang backup on the oft-mentioned signature recordings: "You’ve Lost that Lovin Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers, "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes and the Spector Christmas album. Spector also produced Cher’s first single "Ringo, I Love You," a super-rare collectible of pop culture because it’s desired by Spector fans, Beatle fans and Cher fans.

At Spector’s recording studio, Gold Star on Vine Street in Hollywood, Spector worked with a core group of studio musicians he called The Crew. Cher worked with many of them throughout her tenure with Sonny & Cher: Hal Blaine appears on many Sonny & Cher records (his daughter Michelle Blaine is prominent in the Clarkson murder investigation as she worked for Phil until recently and allegedly deflected his marriage proposals), Glen Campbell who made a few appearances on Cher’s variety shows in the 70s, Leon Russell who wrote "Superstar" which Cher recorded before The Carpenters turned it into a hit, and Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack who also played with Sonny & Cher in the early days.

Sonny probably picked up a lot being Phil Spector’s helper-bee. I remember Sonny talking on an 80s Phil Spector documentary saying how brilliant the Wall of Sound was but that this was basically all Phil could do.

This crime story is also a map of a fading Los Angeles nightlife: Phil hit Trader Vics and Dan Tanas before picking up Clarkson at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. Lana Clarkson was an aging actress struggling to pay her rent on a shabby bungalow in the Venice canals. Maybe she should have looked for less exclusive and cheaper rent somewhere else, instead of paling around shifty entertainment types at the House of Blues. The LA Magazine article makes her out to be a sweetheart of a smart gal. But they fail to explain (or even raise the question – the veritable elephant in the room) of why this far from doe-eyed-right-off-the-bus actress (she’d been a lei girl on Fantasy Island for God’s sake) didn’t know better than to go home with someone who everyone knows has more guns than wits about him. Was he attractive? No. Was he a star maker of the moment? No. Was he treating her swell that night? No. So WTF??

This is the mystery I’ll be pursuing during this trial. Not if he did it; not why he did it; not why none of the other victims called Spector to acount for years of abusive incidents. Even crazy-old power paralyzes in Hollywood, so it would seem. What I want to know is why the hell Lana Clarkson ended up in that house.

The latest coverage of the trial can be found here, including interesting revelations this week about the jury pool.

   

Comments

Rob

Ouch, you're sort of verging on a 'blame the victim' mentality there. Maybe he offered her cash...who knows. I don't think everyone was as aware of his seedy reputation as others were. No-one expects to go home with someone and have a gun 'accidentally' go off in their mouth and die. I can't even believe he's been 'home-free' for 4 years. Money talks. But not for much longer hopefully. He's a psychopathic loser/criminal, and I hope he fry's.

coolia

I'd agree with Rob. I didn't know about his violent past until this murder. Well, I knew he was abusive to Ronnie but I didnt know the pattern went on from there. The article surmised she may have been curious to see "the castle" - probably thought it would make a good story for her neighbors in venice.

By the way, dlisted.com compared Phil's latest courtroom hair to the gayken.

Cher Scholar

I thought about that when I was writing the entry...that I didn't *want* to blame the victim. I feel very frustrated in this situation - if she could have just made another choice. I feel women need to go to great lengths to protect themselves - I just watched a Cold Case Files tonight about a girl who got in the car with an old man for a free ride (she said 'he was an old white guy and I figured I could take him) and she ended up a prisoner in his basement for two months of rape and torture. There are psychos out there - how can we continue to be so naive?...we can't be so trusting so I can't let it go. I just can't remove her from blame like I can remove a character like Jodie Foster in The Accused. There's a difference between the two situations for me. That said...this should not affect the outcome of the trial in any way whatsoever. People who make stupid decisions deserve final justice. No mitigating circumstances. He should get what's coming to him whether she walked into it or not.

The LA Mag article talked about why there's been such a long delay between arrest and trial...Spector has gone through three defense attorneys and one judge change all which caused delays.

coolia

That is a valid point - we do make foolish choices. I think even a jaded starlet like Lana could get starstruck and caught up in the moment. Add a few drinks and her judgment is certainly impaired.

I guess I think the greater tragedy is that none of the women he previously threatened with guns spoke up. Some had really silly reasons - like Joan Rivers asst didnt want to embarrass Joan. I don't know - dude puts a gun to my head and the cops are going to be called. I read 5 of these women will be testifying so at least they will hopefully guarantee he wont be free to do this to another woman.

Cher Scholar

Maybe at the end of the day, it's all about me and trying to figure out how I can escape such gastly fates. So I'm constantly judging the choices of others...which is above and beyond law and punishment views - completely separate. It's like that Julie Bullock muder in St. Louis that haunted my young adult life...turns out she was just stupid and ignored all the signs that her husband was a bad seed. All that fear I carried around for years by mistake. LA Mag made Clarkson out to be smart and a non-drinker (didn't Spector freak out when she only ordered water or was that some other girl?). So it isn't computing for me...was she stupid, was it alchohol, was it cohersion? It's just an important decision point for me. No one deserves any crime. But I still have to question her actions, as if she was my own daughter, mother or girlfriend and she had survived and I was giving her an hour and a half scoulding session.

coolia

I think the water drinker was another woman - if I remember the article right, i think he came into house of blues with some gal and she only wanted water and he got angry and told his driver to take her away.

tyler

I kinda figured out he was psychotic and had Little Man syndrome long ago thru reading articles about him, due to my CHERobsesson. Time after time I would read where Phil pulled a gun on someone, or just brandished it to make a point or scare the crap out of people. U gotta admire the fact that Cher stated that she was Never scared of Phil and stood up to him. Maybe this was part of her being a naive teen-ager back in the day. He fired off his gun into the studio ceiling when John Lennon was there recording with him and I think Cher was there cutting a track with Harry Nillson (sp). For godsake his parents were cousins...That should be a BIG clue that trouble was ahead for him. Reading Ronnies book, Darlene's etc you see his patten of behavior. Money Talks. Otherwise if this was me or you we would be on death row in a month...unBELIVEable that he is still a "free" Little Man. His path of destruction is a long and winding road that should lead him to death row or at the very least some expensive insitution where he can never harm anyone again. I don't feel that Lana should be blamed for going to his house, cause I kinda think that is like saying a woman who wears a short skirt is asking to be raped. She is the victim...our justice system is unfortunately for sale to the highest bidder.
Love UR Blog it is addictive.
Oh and HI MEGAN!
CHERsTyler

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