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Phil Spector, famed music producer and convicted murderer, dies at 81

Spector died of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday at an unspecified hospital, according to a release from the California Department of Corrections.
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/ Source: NBC News

Phil Spector, the famed music producer who was convicted of the 2003 murder of actor Lana Clarkson, died on Saturday. He was 81.

Spector, full name Harvey Phillip Spector, died of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. at an unspecified hospital, according to a release from the California Department of Corrections. A medical examiner will determine the official cause of death, according to the release.

Long considered a visionary in the world of music, Spector produced albums for countless groups, including The Beatles, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers. Spector is credited with creating the music production technique known as the "Wall of Sound," which merged vocal harmonies with orchestral arrangements.

The technique led to songs like “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “He’s a Rebel" by The Crystals and “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.

Twenty-four of Spector's records landed in the Top 40 between 1960 and 1965, according to The New York Times.

Spector worked on iconic songs like "Unchained Melody" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers. The latter made history, deemed the most-played song on the radio and television of the 20th century, the Times reported.

He also produced The Beatles' "Let It Be" and John Lennon's "Imagine."

Lennon referred to Spector as the “the greatest record producer ever,” the Associated Press reported, and other iconic musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Brian Wilson replicated the style of sound Spector pioneered.

In 2009, Spector was convicted of killing Clarkson in his castle-like mansion in Alhambra, a suburb on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

The murder occurred in February 2003, when Spector drove Clarkson to his home after meeting at House of Blues. Spector's chauffeur later testified that he heard a popping sound, with Spector then emerging while holding a revolver and stating, "I think I killed somebody," according to the Times.

Police found Clarkson fatally shot in the foyer of Spector's home.

Clarkson was the star of B-movie “Barbarian Queen” and had a small role in the film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

A 2007 trial ended in a hung jury, and a retrial in 2009 found Spector guilty of second-degree murder.

He was sentenced to 19 years to life, which he was serving at the time of his death.

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