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Music producer Phil Spector, convicted of murder, dead at 81

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Influential rock producer Phil Spector - who changed pop music and his appearance often after he was charged and convicted of murder - has died at the age of 81.

The Bronx-born musician produced 20 top 40 hits between 1961 and 1965 and went on to work with the Beatles on "Let It Be."

He's credited with influencing legendary musicians, including Bruce Springsteen and the Beach Boys, with his signature production technique called the "Wall of Sound," which layered pop and even classical instruments into a full, lush sound that was new to pop records at the time.

But Spector had a troubled life and suffered bouts of severe depression. He also had a long-standing reputation for gunplay.

In 2003, 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson was killed by a shot to the mouth, fired from Spector’s gun in his castle like mansion outside Los Angeles.

Spector was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in a second trial, after the first trial deadlocked in 2007.

His death was confirmed on Sunday in a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, saying Spector died of natural causes at an outside hospital, and that his official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.

The Daily Mail reported that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks ago and transferred to a hospital from his prison cell, where he had been serving a 19 years-to-life sentence for the Clarkson murder.

Video Transcript

- Influential rock producer Phil Spector, who changed pop music and his appearance often after he was charged and then convicted of murder, has died at the age of 81. The Bronx born musician produced 20 top 40 hits between 1961 and 1965 and went on to work with the Beatles on Let It Be. He's credited with influencing legendary musicians, including Bruce Springsteen and the Beach Boys, with his signature production technique called the wall of sound, which layered pop and even classical instruments into a full lush sound that was new to pop records at the time.

But, Spector had a troubled life and suffered bouts of severe depression. He also had a longstanding reputation for gunplay. In 2003, 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson was killed by a shot to the mouth fired from Spector's gun in his castle-like mansion outside Los Angeles. Spector was ultimately convicted of second degree murder in a second trial after the first trial deadlocked in 2007. His death was confirmed on Sunday in a statement from the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation saying, Spector died of natural causes at an outside hospital and that his official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner. The Daily Mail reported that he was diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks ago and transferred to a hospital from his prison cell, where he had been serving a 19 years to life sentence for the murder of Clarkson.