Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Phil Spector: The 'Mad Genius' of Rock'n'Roll

'She Kissed
the Gun'

Lana Clarkson
Lana Clarkson

Investigators pieced together Spector's activities on the night of February 2, 2003, before he met Lana Clarkson. Before going to the House of Blues, Spector spent time at three restaurants: the Grill in Beverly Hills where he had dinner, Dan Tana's in West Hollywood, and Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills. Witnesses claimed that Spector consumed alcohol at each location. At the House of Blues, he ordered a cocktail and a bottle of water and left a $450 tip. He later told police he wasn't intoxicated that night but Clarkson was.

In an interview with Spector that was published in Esquire in July 2003, the rock producer said Clarkson had "kissed the gun" before she fired the bullet that took her own life. He claimed to have had "no idea" where she got the gun and had never met her before that night. "I never knew her," Spector said. "I never even saw her before that night. I have no idea who she was or what her agenda was."

Phil Spector
Phil Spector

Spector said Clarkson was "loud and drunk" at the House of Blues and that she took a bottle of tequila from the club. "She asked me for a ride home, then she wanted to see the castle," he told Esquire, referring to his mansion. "There is no case. She killed herself ... It's 'Anatomy of a Frame-Up.'"

To help prove his innocence, Spector hired attorney Robert Shapiro who was a key member of O.J. Simpson's "dream team."

But did Clarkson have an "agenda" that night as Specter seems to imply? And was it suicide?

Lana Clarkson, 1987
Lana Clarkson, 1987

A native of Southern California, Clarkson acquired her SAG card at age 18 for a bit part in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. She later appeared in Scarface, starring Al Pacino. Her television work included appearances on Three's Company, Happy Days, The Love Boat, CHiPs, Laverne and Shirley, Fantasy Island, Hill Street Blues, Wings, Knight Rider, and The A-Team. According to her official Web site, as a performer she was "inspired by the blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe." She worked steadily in her 20s and 30s, capitalizing on her height and striking good looks, and at one point owned a house on the canals in Venice, Calif. She finally landed a starring role when king of the B-movies, director Roger Corman, cast her in Barbarian Queen, a role that she repeated in Barbarian Queen 2: The Empress Strikes Back. Corman admiringly called her "the original Xena."

But as she approached middle age, she found roles were harder to come by. On Christmas Day 2001, she fell while dancing at a children's party and broke both wrists, which put her out of commission for much of 2002. With acting parts scarce, she took a job as a hostess at the House of Blues. Ex-boyfriend Robert Hall told Time Europe, "She was positive on the outside, but in the past few years she struggled to make car payments." Is it possible that Clarkson saw Spector as a valuable contact who could jumpstart her career? Rumors had circulated around Hollywood for years that a film based on Spector's life was in the works. Was Clarkson perhaps hoping to land a role for herself? Could this have been her "agenda?" Or was she just looking for a good time? If her intention was to take her own life that night, why go to a stranger's house to do it?

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