Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A happy photo; a sad story...

Again from today's NY Times, here's a lingering, mournful obituary for Estelle Bennett, "the pretty Ronette." I loved those girls and their music - as we all did. Were they a big deal? According to this piece, in '64 in England, the Stones opened for them!

Look at Phil Spector in the photo: his ascot and comb and heavy bracelet. You can see what's behind his eyes or what's strapped to his ankle, but neither is good news. 

Like OJ, Spector is surely a creep and a killer, but oh my, that Wall of Sound...

1 comment:

philcycles said...

In my previous life as a big time sound mixer I had personal experience with the strangeness behind Phil Spector's eyes. I was present at the well known incident when he pulled a gun during the recording of The Ramones album he produced and refused to let anybody leave. I have no trouble believing that he killed that poor girl.
The studio in the photo is probably Gold Star of sainted memory in Hollywood, a very famous studio renowned for its echo chamber which was partially responsible for the expansive Wall Of Sound. Most of the Wall Of sound was Spector's technique of using multiple instruments-2 basses, 2 pianos, 3 or 4 guitars in a small room. Because the studio wasn't very big. there was lots of leakage-mics picking up not just the instrument they're pointing at but others in the room. Add the echo chamber and you have the Wall Of Sound. Of course having one of the best engineers in the business-Larry Levine-didn't hurt. These records were for the most part one take played at the same time records. No overdubbing because they didn't have multi track tape machines until later. Google overdubbing for an explaination, it's too complicated to go into here. And Phil only used the best players and arrangers in the business.
The Ronettes sides are to me the most involving of Phil's records, mostly, I believe, because he was in love with Ronnie.
Gold Star had a sad end. In the late 80s it was no longer viable as a studio and the real estate-at Santa Monica and Vine-was very valuable. The studio was sold, the equipment removed and the next day, son of a gun, it burned to the ground. No grass grew under Dave Gold's feet.
Phil Brown