Tittenhurst Park

This Tittenhurst Park blog is dedicated to John Lennon's home in Sunningdale, near Ascot, Berkshire between 1969 and 1971. The aim is to gather as much material relating to the estate as possible - obviously with the emphasis on the Lennon-era, but also concerning Tittenhurst Park as it was before and after John Lennon's ownership. In addition, there will be posts about and associated with the Beatles, plus any other rubbish I feel like. The blog is purely meant for the entertainment of anyone (assuming there is actually anyone) who, like me, has an unhealthy interest in one particular Georgian mansion. Those with anything interesting to contribute in the way of links, photos, scans, stories etc. please do contact me: tittenhurstlennon@gmail.com
(Legal: this blog is strictly non-commercial. All material is the property of the photographer/artist/copyright holder concerned. Any such who wishes a picture etc to be removed should contact me and I will do so. Alternatively, if someone is happy to see their photo on here, but would like a credit/link then let me know and I'll be happy to provide one).


Phil Spector

The Wall of Sound

Spector's trademark during that era was the so-called Wall of Sound, a production technique yielding a dense, layered effect that reproduced well on AM radio and jukeboxes. To attain this signature sound, Spector gathered large groups of musicians (playing some instruments not generally used for ensemble playing, such as electric and acoustic guitars) playing orchestrated parts — often doubling and tripling many instruments playing in unison — for a fuller sound. Spector himself called his technique "a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids".
While Spector directed the overall sound of his recordings, he took a relatively hands-off approach to working with the musicians themselves (usually a core group that became known as The Wrecking Crew, including session players such as Hal Blaine, Steve Douglas, Carol Kaye, Roy Caton, Glen Campbell, and Leon Russell), delegating arrangement duties to Jack Nitzsche and having Sonny Bono oversee the performances, viewing these two as his "lieutenants".
Spector frequently used songs from songwriters employed at the Brill Building (Trio Music) and at 1650 Broadway (Aldon Music), such as the teams of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Spector often worked with the songwriters, receiving cocredit for compositions.
Spector was already known as a temperamental and quirky personality with strong, often unconventional ideas about musical and recording techniques. Despite the trend towards multichannel recording, Spector was vehemently opposed to stereo releases, claiming that it took control of the record's sound away from the producer in favor of the listener. Spector also greatly preferred singles to albums, describing LPs as "two hits and ten pieces of junk".
The first time Spector put the same amount of effort into an LP as he did into 45s was when he utilized the full Philles roster and the Wrecking Crew to make what he felt would become a hit for the 1963 Christmas season. A Christmas Gift for You arrived in stores the day of the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The somber mood of the country may have contributed to the album being a flop in its initial release. Despite its initially poor reception, selections from the album are now Yuletide mainstays on radio stations, and the album has since been a regular seller during the holiday season.

The mid-Sixties

In 1964, The Ronettes appeared at the Cow Palace, near San Francisco. Also on the bill were The Righteous Brothers. Spector, who was conducting the band for all the acts, was so impressed with Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield that he bought their contract from Moonglow Records and signed them to Philles. In early 1965, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", became the label's second #1 single. Three more major hits with the group followed: "Just Once in My Life" (#9), "Unchained Melody" (originally the B side of "Hung On You") (#4) and "Ebb Tide" (#5). Despite having hits, Spector lost interest in producing The Righteous Brothers, and sold their contract and all their master recordings to Verve Records. However, the sound of The Righteous Brothers' singles was so distinctive that the act chose to replicate it after leaving Spector, notching a second #1 hit in 1966 with the Bill Medley-produced, "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration".
The Spector-produced recording of "Unchained Melody" had a second wave of popularity 25 years after its initial release, when it was featured prominently in the 1990 hit movie, Ghost. A rerelease of the single recharted on the Billboard Hot 100, and went to number one on the Adult Contemporary charts. This also put Spector (as a producer) back on the U.S. Top 40 charts for the first time since his last appearance in 1971 with John Lennon's "Imagine", although he did have U.K. top 40 hits in the interim with The Ramones.
Spector's final signing to Philles was the husband-and-wife team of Ike and Tina Turner in 1966. Spector considered their recording of "River Deep - Mountain High", to be his best work, but it failed to go any higher than #88 in the United States. The single, which was essentially a solo Tina Turner record, was more successful in Britain, reaching #3.
Spector subsequently lost enthusiasm for his label and the recording industry. Already something of a recluse, he withdrew temporarily from the public eye, marrying Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett, lead singer of the Ronettes, in 1968. Spector emerged briefly for a cameo as a drug dealer in the film Easy Rider, in 1969. (He had also, in 1967, appeared as himself in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie.)


In 1969, Spector made a brief return to the music business by signing a production deal with A&M Records. A Ronettes single, "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered" flopped, but Spector returned to the Hot 100 with "Black Pearl", by Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd. The record reached #13.
In 1970, Allen Klein, manager of The Beatles, brought Spector to England. While producing John Lennon's hit solo single "Instant Karma!", which went to #3, Spector was invited by Lennon and George Harrison to take on the task of turning the Beatles' abandoned "Get Back" recording sessions into a usable album. Spector went to work using many of his production techniques, making significant changes to the arrangements and sound of some songs. The resulting album, Let It Be, was a massive commercial success and topped the US and UK charts. The album also yielded three #1 singles: "Get Back", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Let it Be". Although viewed as a major creative comeback for Spector, it may also have contributed to the contentious Beatles breakup, as Spector added what some considered inappropriate choir and orchestral arrangements to Lennon's "Across the Universe", and Harrison's "I Me Mine". His overdubbing of "The Long and Winding Road" infuriated its composer, Paul McCartney, especially since the work was allegedly completed without his knowledge and without any opportunity for him to assess the results. In 2003, McCartney spearheaded the release of Let It Be... Naked, which stripped the songs of Spector's input. Spector later stated that McCartney's complaints were "bullshit": it had not stopped McCartney from accepting the "Best Musical Score" award at the 1971 Academy Awards for the Let It Be soundtrack.
In any case, both John Lennon and George Harrison were satisfied with the results, and Let It Be led to Spector coproducing albums with both ex-Beatles. For George Harrison's multiplatinum album All Things Must Pass (#1, 1970), Spector provided a cathedral-like sonic ambiance, complete with ornate orchestrations and gospel-like choirs. The LP yielded two major hits: "My Sweet Lord" (#1) and "What Is Life" (#10). That same year, Spector coproduced John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band (#6) album, which featured a very different, sparse, and raw sound.
In 1971, Spector was named director of A&R for Apple Records. He held the post for only a year, but during that time he coproduced the single "Power to the People" with John Lennon (#11), as well as Lennon's chart-topping Imagine album. The album's title track hit #3 upon its release and #1 after Lennon's murder in 1980. With George Harrison, Spector coproduced Harrison's "Bangla-Desh" (a #23 hit) and wife Ronnie Spector's "Try Some, Buy Some" (which made it to #77). Also that year, Spector recorded the music for the #1 triple album The Concert For Bangladesh. The album later won the "Album of the Year" award at the 1972 Grammys. Despite being recorded live, Spector used up to 44 microphones simultaneously while recording to create his trademark Wall of Sound.
Lennon retained Spector for the 1971 Christmas single "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and the poorly-reviewed 1972 album Some Time In New York City (#48). Similar to the unusual pattern of success that Spector's A Christmas Gift For You experienced, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" also stalled in sales upon its initial release, only later to become a fixture on radio station playlists during the holiday season. In 1973, Spector participated in the recording sessions for what would be Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll album (#6). It was during these sessions that Spector's relationship with Lennon ended; some versions claim that the producer suffered a breakdown in the studio, brandishing a gun and disappearing with the Rock 'n' Roll tapes, although Spector biographer Dave Thompson places most of the blame on the out-of-control behavior of Lennon and his entourage. After several months, Lennon retrieved the tapes and finished the album himself.

Later years

As the Seventies progressed, Spector became increasingly reclusive. The most probable and significant reason for his withdrawal, recently revealed by biographer Dave Thompson, was that Spector was seriously injured when he was thrown through the windshield of his car in a crash in Hollywood. According to a contemporary report published in the New Musical Express, Spector was almost killed, and it was only because the attending police officer detected a faint pulse that Spector was not declared dead at the scene. He was admitted to the UCLA Medical Center on the night of March 31, 1974, suffering serious head injuries which necessitated several hours of surgery with over 300 stitches to his face, and more than 400 stitches to the back of his head. His head injuries, Thompson suggests, were the reason that Spector began his habit of wearing outlandish wigs in later years.
The 1974 accident took place shortly after Spector had established the Warner-Spector label, which undertook new recordings with Dion, Cher, Harry Nilsson and others, as well as several reissues. A similar relationship with Britain's Polydor Records led to the formation of the Phil Spector International label in 1975.
After a pair of failed dirge-like singles with Cher, Spector produced Dion’s "Born To Be With You." A set of slow and mid-tempo songs recorded against a darker Wall of Sound, drenched in sinister portent, the release was initially panned and released only in the UK, but has since grown in stature.
The majority of Spector's classic Philles recordings had been out of print in the U.S. since the original label's demise, although Spector had released several Philles Records compilations in Britain. Finally, he released an American compilation of his Philles recordings in 1977 which put most of the better known Spector hits back into circulation after many years.
Spector began to reemerge in the late 1970s, producing and cowriting a controversial 1977 album by Leonard Cohen, entitled Death of a Ladies' Man. The album angered many devout Cohen fans who were used to his stark acoustic sound versus the orchestral and choral wall of sound the album contains. Despite initial negative critiques, the album is now considered one of Cohen's best. The recording of the album was fraught with difficulty; Spector reportedly mixed the album in secret studio sessions and Cohen said Spector once threatened him with a crossbow. Cohen has remarked that the end result is "grotesque", but also "semi-virtuous". Cohen, however, still includes a reworked version of the track "Memories" in live concerts. Bob Dylan also participated in the recording of "Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On," which is the second time Spector indirectly produced Dylan - the first being Dylan's live recordings on The Concert For Bangladesh.
Spector also produced the much-publicized Ramones album, End of the Century in 1980. Similar to his work with Leonard Cohen, End of the Century received negative backlash from Ramones fans who were angered over the radio-friendly sound of the album. However, End of the Century contains some of the best known and most successful Ramones singles such as Rock 'n' Roll High School, Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? and their cover of a previously released Spector song for the Ronettes, Baby, I Love You. Guitarist Johnny Ramone later commented on working with Spector on the recording of the album, "It really worked when he got to a slower song like 'Danny Says'—the production really worked tremendously. For the harder stuff, it didn't work as well."
Rumors had circulated for years that Spector had threatened members of the Ramones with a gun during the sessions. Johnny Ramone remembered a meeting at Spector's home in which the producer became upset when they tried to leave. "And then he reaches into his jacket pocket and well, he pulls out a gun, puts it on the table right in front of us, and says, 'You guys don't really have to go yet, do you?'". Drummer Marky Ramone recalled in 2008 "They (guns) were there but he had a license to carry. He never held us hostage. We could have left at any time".
Spector also worked with Yoko Ono in 1981, and coproduced Season of Glass, her first work after her husband's death.
Since 2000
Spector remained inactive throughout most of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. He attempted to work with Céline Dion on her album Falling Into You, but that fell through. His most recent released project has been "Silence Is Easy" by Starsailor, released in 2003. He was originally supposed to produce the entire album, but was fired owing to personal and creative differences — however, one of the two Spector-produced songs on the album was a U.K. top 10 single. Plans to work with The Vines were halted because of his murder trial.
The latest song to be produced by Spector is a track by singer-songwriter Hargo The track, "Crying For John Lennon", originally appears on Hargo's 2006 album In Your Eyes, but on a visit to Spector's mansion for an interview for the John Lennon tribute movie, Strawberry Fields, Hargo played Spector the song and asked him to produce it. Spector and former Paul McCartney drummer Graham Ward produced it in the classic wall of sound style on nights after his murder trial.
In December 2007, the song "B Boy Baby" by Mutya Buena and Amy Winehouse featured melodic and lyrical passages heavily influenced by the Ronettes song "Be My Baby". As a result, Spector was given a songwriting credit on the single. Contrary to popular belief, the sections from "Be My Baby" are sung by Winehouse, not directly sampled from the mono single. Winehouse has made reference to her admiration of Spector's work with 1960s girl groups. She is known to cover Spector's first hit, "To Know Him Is to Love Him".
Also in December 2007, Spector attended the funeral for Ike Turner whom he previously produced in the mid-late 1960s with his then-wife Tina Turner. While delivering a eulogy, Spector lashed out at Tina Turner and stated that "Ike made Tina the jewel she was. When I went to see Ike play at the Cinegrill in the 90s…there were at least five Tina Turners on the stage performing that night, any one of them could have been Tina Turner." Spector then lashed out at Oprah Winfrey for promoting Tina Turner's autobiography that "demonized and vilified Ike."
In mid-April 2008, BBC 2 broadcast a special entitled Phil Spector: The Agony and The Ecstasy. It consists of Spector's first screen interview -- breaking a long period of media silence. During the conversation, images from the murder court case are juxtaposed with live appearances of his tracks on television programs from the 1960s and 1970s, along with subtitles giving critical interpretation of some of his song production values. Whilst he doesn't directly try to clear his name, the court case proceedings shown try to give further explanation of the facts surrounding the murder charges that were leveled against him. He also speaks about the musical instincts that led him to create some of his most enduring hit records, from "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" to "River Deep, Mountain High", as well as The Beatles' album Let It Be, along with criticisms he feels he has had to deal with throughout his life.


Many producers have tried to emulate the Wall of Sound, and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys—a fellow adherent of mono recording—considered Spector his main competition as a studio artist, going so far as to name the acclaimed Pet Sounds album using Spector's initials. Bruce Springsteen emulated the Wall of Sound technique in his recording of "Born to Run". Shoegazing, a British musical movement in the late 1980s and mid 1990s, was heavily influenced by the Wall of Sound.
For his contributions to the music industry, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him #63 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Spector's early musical influences included Latin music in general, and Latin percussion in particular. This is keenly perceptible in many, if not all, of Spector's recordings from the percussion in many of his hit songs: shakers, güiros (gourds), and maracas in "Be My Baby," and the son montuno in "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," heard clearly in the song's bridge played by session bassist Carol Kaye while the same repeating refrain is played on harpsichord by keyboardist Larry Knechtel. Phil would visit Spanish Harlem clubs and schools to hone his listening and practical skills.
The Beach Boys paid tribute to Spector in the lyrics of their song "Mona":
"Come on/Listen to "Da Doo Ron Ron," now/Listen to "Be My Baby"/I know you're gonna love Phil Spector"
The character of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a 1970 Russ Meyer film, is based upon Spector, though neither Meyer nor screenwriter Roger Ebert had met him.

Phil Spector's Murder case

On February 3, 2003, the body of 40-year-old nightclub hostess and actress Lana Clarkson of Los Angeles was found at Phil Spector's mansion, named Pyrenees Castle, in Alhambra, California. Police responded to a 9-1-1 phone call from Spector's driver and discovered Clarkson, who had injuries consistent with a gun being placed in her mouth and fired. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Spector was arrested on suspicion of murder. On November 20, 2003, Spector was indicted for murder in the second degree in the death of Clarkson. He would be tried twice: the first time, in 2007, the result was a mistrial. The retrial took place in 2009.
Spector has stated that Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide" and that she "kissed the gun". However, prior to the 9-1-1 call, Spector, holding a gun, had reportedly approached one of his employees and declared, "I think I killed somebody". Spector's lawyers argued that statements Spector made on the night of the shooting should be disallowed as evidence because he was suffering from prescription drug withdrawal. But on October 28, 2005, a judge ruled that this report could be admitted into evidence at trial. The judge also ruled that transcripts from a deposition Spector made several months before Clarkson's death could also be introduced by the prosecution at trial.
The prosecution's scenario of the incident was that Spector and Lana Clarkson happened to meet at a public place (in particular, she was working as a hostess at a nightclub he was patronizing), Spector invited her to his home, and at some point produced a handgun and menaced her with it. Because he was not thought to have intended to kill, he was not charged with murder in the first degree. The prosecution further alleged that Spector had over the course of 30-odd years done the same thing to many women, short of shooting them. As a key part of its case, the prosecution wanted to introduce into evidence the testimonies from five women that in separate incidents, they had undergone the same scenario with Spector as the prosecution was alleging happened to Clarkson. According to these women, there would come a point when the women wanted to leave Spector's home, whereupon he would hold them at gunpoint. The defense's strenuous efforts before trial to have these damning statements barred from testimony were futile.
Two months before the night of the shooting, Spector had told Britain's Daily Telegraph that he had bipolar disorder and that he considered himself "relatively insane".
Prior to and during the first trial, Spector went through at least three sets of attorneys. Defense attorney Robert Shapiro represented Spector at the arraignment and early pretrial hearings and achieved his release on $1 million bail. Bruce Cutler represented him during the 2007 trial, but withdrew on August 27, 2007 claiming "a difference of opinion between Mr. Spector and me on strategy." Attorney Linda Kenney Baden then became lead lawyer for closing arguments.
First trial
Spector remained free on $1 million bail while awaiting trial.
Trial began March 19, 2007 (four years and one month after Clarkson's death). Presiding judge Larry Paul Fidler allowed the trial to be televised. At the start of the trial, the defense's famed forensic expert Henry Lee (who provided key evidence in the O. J. Simpson trial) was accused of hiding crucial evidence that the District Attorney's office claimed could prove Spector's guilt. On September 26, 2007 Judge Fidler declared a mistrial because the jury was hung (10 to 2 for conviction).
Second trial
The retrial of Phil Spector for murder in the second degree began on October 20, 2008, with Judge Fidler again presiding; this time it was not televised. The case went to the jury on 26 March 2009, and nineteen days later, on April 13, the jury returned a guilty verdict. In addition he was found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime. Spector was immediately taken into custody and was formally sentenced on May 29, 2009, to 19 years to life in the California State Prison System. Spector will be 88 years old before becoming eligible for parole.
Spector was married to Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett, former lead singer of The Ronettes, a girl group that he had managed and produced, from 1963 to 1974.
They adopted three children:
Louis Phillip Spector & Gary Phillip Spector (twins), born May 12, 1966 (adopted at age 5)
Donté Phillip Spector, born March 23, 1969 (adopted at age 8 months)
Other children (with Janis Savala, who became Spector's third wife):
Nicole Audrey Spector & Phillip Spector Jr. (twins), born 1982. Phillip Spector Jr. died of leukemia December 25, 1991

Spector married aspiring singer and actress Rachelle Short on September 1, 2006.

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