Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

'I'm Too Evil'

In a 2000 interview, Vanity Fair asked Phil Spector what his greatest fear was.

"That God won't let me into heaven because I'm too evil," he said, "and that the Devil won't let me into hell because he's afraid that I'll take over."

Throughout his career, Spector embraced his public image as a "mad genius," but a more sinister image began to emerge as his preeminence as a hitmaker was challenged. Stories of his eccentricities found their way to the press, painting a picture of a demented recluse haunting his California castle.

Jeffrey Ressner in Time Europe reported that Spector "took to running around his hilltop mansion in a Batman costume." Spector allegedly kept a "glass coffin in his basement" and swore that if his wife "Ronnie ever left him, he would kill her and display her body like Snow White's."

In Mark Ribowsky's biography of Spector, songwriter Doc Pomus said that Spector would typically change his clothes four times a day and "each time he'd have a different gun to match the outfit."

Four weeks after Lana Clarkson's death, Spector told the London Daily Telegraph, "I take medication for schizophrenia, but I wouldn't say I'm schizophrenic … I have a bipolar personality … I'm my own worst enemy. I have devils inside that fight me."

Perhaps this accounts for his menacing behavior over the years. His ex-wife Ronnie claimed that he kept her captive in their house. Dee Dee Ramone, the bass player for the Ramones, made a similar claim. According to Kurt Loder, while Spector was working with the band on their 1994 album End of the Century, he held Dee Dee captive. "[Spector] had guns on him," Ramone said, "and he wouldn't let me out of his house for a couple of days."

Album cover: End of the Century
Album cover: End of the
Century

Mark Ribowsky describes the End of the Century sessions as tense and manic with Spector drinking and frequently throwing tantrums. On one occasion the band waited eight hours while he mixed just the opening guitar chord on "Rock'n'Roll High School." Finally Dee Dee lashed out in frustration, telling Spector he was going to kill him, and Spector once again overreacted. According to lead singer Joey Ramone, Spector "held a gun to Dee Dee's head."

In the wake of the Clarkson shooting, other alleged victims of Spector's peculiar ways surfaced. Los Angeles detectives located a former topless dancer who claims that Spector forced her to perform oral sex at gunpoint 25 years ago. According to the January 5, 2004, Daily News, Sandy Kane told investigators Spector had been partying with the brother-sister act Nino Tempo and April Stevens and comic Kenny Kramer (who would later become the inspiration for the "Kramer" character on the hit television sitcom Seinfeld). According to Kane, on their way to a restaurant in Spector's limo, "Spector showed us his gun." Afterward in his hotel room, Spector, "reeking of alcohol," forced himself on Kane and asked for oral sex. When she refused, he pulled his gun out and said, "You better."

Fearing for her safety, Kane complied but didn't report the incident to the police. "I was a topless dancer," she said, recalling the night, "I felt they would blame me." She added, "I want justice done."

Perhaps the most condemning charges came from Spector's two adopted sons, Donte and Gary Spector, who revealed horrors from the childhoods to the Mail in December 2003. "For years, we were just caged animals to be let out for Dad's amusement," Donte Spector said. Their father's abusive behavior toward them increased after his divorce from Ronnie Spector.

Donte claimed that as a child, "he was forced to perform simulated intercourse with his father's girlfriend." At the age of 9, he was blindfolded and handcuffed "for her amusement."

Gary Spector said that he was also blindfolded and sexually molested, told by his father that it would be a "learning experience."

The brothers concurred that they were held prisoner on Spector's estate where the windows in the house were secured with bars and barbed wire. "We were locked in our separate rooms by our governess, let out for breakfast, then taken to school by guards," Gary said.

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