I was watching an interview on TV tonight featuring Phil Spector, American record producer and songwriter. From Wikipedia:
Phil Spector was born in 1939 to a lower-middle-class Jewish family in the Bronx, New York City. His father was a Russian immigrant.
"The originator of the "Wall of Sound" production technique, Spector was a pioneer of the 1960s girl-group sound and produced more than twenty-five Top 40 hits from 1960 to 1965. Among his famous girl groups are the Ronettes and the Crystals. After this initial success, Spector later worked with artists including Ike and Tina Turner, John Lennon, George Harrison, and the Ramones with similar acclaim. He produced the Beatles' album Let It Be, and the Grammy Award–winning Concert for Bangladesh by former Beatle George Harrison. In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer. The 1965 song "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", produced and co-written by Spector for the Righteous Brothers, is listed by BMI as the song with the most U.S. airplay in the 20th century.
In 2009, Spector was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California home. He is serving a prison sentence of 19 years to life."
In listening to his answers, watching his facial expressions, I thought, here is a perfect example of what a rotten childhood does to a person. How the damage goes so deep into the soul that it's practically unfixable. How a perfect genius of creativity can have turned into such an abominable human being. It was so obvious, and so utterly sad.
Phil's father blew his own head off when Phil was 9 years old. His domineering mother moved them to LA afterward, where he continued with his schooling and learning music. His creative genius became evident even in his teens. With three friends, he formed a group called the Teddy Bears, and his first record release was "To Know Him Is To Love Him" and it was a hit. We all thought it was about young love, the infatuation of a young girl. That title was taken from the epitaph on his Father's grave and the song was written to him. I watched his face as he revealed the story, and his eyes glistened with tears. Such deep, deep pain to carry all these years. I was touched to the bone by that revelation, even though he has done monstrous things. There was part of the root of it all, exposed to the light of day. God knows what other atrocities he suffered as a child. He said only that his young life was very difficult, very sad. And we can all see, looking at his life, how that affected him as an adult.
Divorced from Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes, Ronnie reported his pathological jealousy, mental abuse, violent anger, his insecurity.
Later on, the deaths of Lenny Bruce, John Lennon and others close to him set him on a tail spin into
substance abuse, mood swings, and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point.
Short and slight in physical stature, Spector had no shortage of egotism, arrogance nor talent. But clearly, his demons - inferiority feelings, narcissistic rage, traumatic loss, fear of abandonment all created a perfect mess in him personally. But his career soared, in spite of it all, such was the grand level of his vision. Toward the end of it, he became a recluse, having lost his enthusiasm for the recording industry. A 1974 car crash nearly took his life. He was clearly living "The Agony and the Ecstasy". He stumbled along from incident to incident until the murder of a girlfriend brought everything to a stop.
Evil and creativity. At first glance, they seem contradictory, polar opposites. Creativity and evil live in close quarters in artists like Spector. Creating, actualizing one's possibilities, always involves destructive as well as constructive aspects. We tend to think of genius as something exclusively good and positive. But one can have a genius for evil too. That is, genius can be expressed in the world both creatively and destructively, depending on the basic existential choices made. His is a sad tale, very sad, when you consider all it could have been, absent the early damage done to his still-forming mind.
And now he is serving his sentence for the murder of Lana Clarkson at the state prison in Corcoran, California. He will be 88 years old before he's eligible for parole.
His various children have all described him as a "monstrous father". A perfect example of how the damage gets passed down, generation to generation. And that, in my opinion, must be the saddest thing of all. Next to the fact that most parents haven't yet connected those dots. The saddest thing.
--Jo VonBargen 2013