After he was sent to prison, I developed a strange fascination with Phil Spector. And I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it had something to do with that bit, “Strange are the ways of karma.” So many strange and mind-boggling things can happen to a person during the course of our lives, as our destinies unfold. Incredible successes and incredible failures, and how there’s such a fine line between which way it goes.
And Phil Spector kind of embodied that. Going from living in a huge castle at the top of a hill, with every luxury at his whim. To living in a barren 10-foot prison cell. Almost literally going “from the penthouse to the outhouse.”
After Spector was sent to prison, I would sometimes Google, “Phil Spector prison life.” Out of curiosity, I guess, at how his life had enfolded. Not surprisingly, very few details ever showed up on the web. Prison is such a subtarranean world after all, very little of what goes on there ever reaches the light of day of civilized society. But periodically there would be new Phil Spector news. . .
Early in his incarceration he apparently mouthed off to someone in the yard and got a couple of teeth knocked out. And I figured that must have been a rude awakening. Realizing that things he used to be able to get away with on the outside — when he was a rich, powerful celebrity, brandishing firearms and had burly bodyguards to back him up — well, he was playing under a new set of rules now.
And periodically there would be new mugshots of Phil Spector that would flash across the internet. A bald and wig-less Spector staring directly at the camera. As if he had been stripped of everything — his artiface, his persona, his costumes, his image, his ego, his fame, all that he had hidden behind all those years — and now finally and completely exposed to the world for who he really was all along.
And periodically there would be news of Spector suing somebody. He continued suing people, practically to the end, even though he was in prison. He sued the city where his mansion was located for alleged damages to his property. And he sued his wife for divorce claiming she was stealing all of his money.
And then there were reports that he had lost his voice, that he was no longer able to talk. And that he had cut himself off completely from the outside world. No friends, no family, no visitors, no pen-pals (though I believe he did stay in contact with his lawyer until the end). And I would sometimes picture Phil Spector lying alone, silently, on his cot. And I’d wonder what he was thinking. As he stared up at the ceiling. Was he still thinking of all of his past glories? Or were they just like a barely-remembered dream from a past lifetime? Was he thinking about how it had all gone so wrong, and wondering why? Or had he given up on even trying to make any sense of it all?
Phil Spector. RIP