Phil Spector was taking drugs that battle schizophrenia at the time he was arrested this week for the alleged first-degree murder of a 41-year-old sometime actress and model in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The famous record producer and songwriter, 62, told British pop journalist Mick Brown, 52, in a rare interview in January this year that he was taking the unnamed drugs not because he was schizophrenic but because he has "a bipolar personality, which is strange. I'm my own worst enemy." He added that he's "probably relatively insane, to an extent."
Spector's comments to Brown were made in the course of a four-hour interview subsequently published Feb. 2 in the weekend magazine of London's Daily Telegraph newspaper -- just one day before Lana Clarkson was found dead from gun-shot wounds in the foyer of Spector's faux castle in the southern California suburb of Alhambra.
Spector has been a recluse for decades but he chose to talk with Brown -- who's the author of a well-regarded biography of Virgin Records and airline founder Richard Branson -- to mark his return to the recording studio after a 23-year hiatus.
Spector has been working with the popular British band Starsailor on songs for the group's second recording, due later this year. It was Spector's daughter, Nicole, 20, who took him to a Starsailor concert in Los Angeles last year. He began to work with the quartet, whose music is inspired by that of the late Tim Buckley, Neil Young and Van Morrison, last October in London. Since then there have been rumours he plans to work with Coldplay, another British band, and the Vines, a group from Australia.
Spector told Tom Wolfe in 1964 in The First Tycoon of Teen that he started to see psychiatrists in 1960, when he was 18, eventually paying $600 (U.S.) a week by the time he was a multimillionaire 23-year-old for their counsel. He's never stopped seeing psychiatrists, he told Mick Brown, because he's convinced he has "devils inside that fight me," is prone to protracted bouts of insomnia, and wants to have "a healthier relationship" with his daughter than he could have "as a neurotic, sick person."
Spector, who reportedly has been dating singer Nancy Sinatra, 62, in recent months, said he wanted to get back into the recording studio because it's where he feels "comfortable" and "reasonable."
At the same time, the man behind You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' and River Deep -- Mountain High acknowledged there may not be any new worlds left to conquer, having worked with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Eric Clapton, the Righteous Brothers, Tina Turner and John Lennon. He told Brown Lennon "was the brother I never had. I just loved him."
While Lennon and Spector parted ways in 1975 after collaborating on Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll LP, Brown reports the duo made a pact to reunite at some specified date to make a record with Elvis Presley -- "the record that would save Elvis from himself," in Brown's words. However, Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977, nipped that plan, while any further collaboration with Lennon was ruled impossible by the ex-Beatle's murder in December, 1980.
Today, even the thought of perhaps resuscitating Michael Jackson's flagging musical career holds no interest. "I mean, starting out life as a black man and ending up as a white woman. What's that all about?" he asked Brown.
While always convinced of his genius, Spector could be profoundly insecure about his talents. He spent six months and a then-astonishing amount of $35,000 (U.S.) in 1964 arranging and producing You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'.However, when he played a test pressing to its co-writer Barry Mann, its co-publisher Donald Kirshner and the famous New York disc jockey Murray the K, each gave him advice on how it could be improved.
"I didn't sleep for a week when that record came out. I was so sick . . .," he recalled to Brown.
Even when he delivered hit after hit -- 20 Top 10s in less than 32 months -- he found relaxation impossible. "I always preferred the studio. Going out was always the big ordeal . . . It was like being in front of an audience," he told Brown. "I felt powerful. But it was frightening because you always think of losing it, every minute of the day. You look at poor people all the time. You think of yourself as poor all the time."
The Brown article depicts a man wary of women and, with respect to ex-wife (his second) Veronica Bennett (of Ronettes fame), embittered. In 2000, Ronnie Spector, whom he divorced in 1974, was awarded $2.6-million from Spector's bank account for allegedly not paying royalties on the licensing of selected Ronettes songs. That decision, however, was overturned last October.
"Wife and marriage isn't a word," Spector told Brown in January. "It's a sentence; and wives last through our marriage, and ex-wives last forever . . . But [Ronnie Spector]can still get up 40 years later and sing Be My Baby and get applause. I made her famous, and she resents that. 'Oh, but he's a control freak . . .' "
In January, Spector said he was more interested in living a "reasonable" life than a happy one. "Good health, bad memory, that's about happy," he said.
At one point, Brown asked Spector who his closest friends are. After a momentary pause, he replied with a laugh: "My attorneys." Now that he's facing a murder rap, he's going to be seeing a lot more of those friends, and they probably won't be doing much laughing.