Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

'Phil Mode'

The prosecution's first witness described the defendant under the influence of alcohol as going into "Phil mode." Dorothy Melvin, who was once comedienne Joan Rivers's manager, told the jury that when Spector drinks, "he snaps and turns on a dime and becomes a lunatic." She was asked to relate an incident in 1993 in which Spector pistol-whipped her and ordered her to undress at gunpoint.

Phil Spector
Phil Spector

It started as "a lovely evening," Melvin testified. At one point Spector sat at piano in his home with a fifth of vodka in front of him. As the evening wore on, she fell asleep on a sofa. When she woke up in middle of night, Spector was gone, and she noticed that the vodka bottle was nearly empty. She searched for him and found him outside pointing a handgun at her new Mercedes. He screamed at her to "get the f—k back in the house." She refused, and he struck her with the gun. He threw a tantrum, yelling that he'd been looking all over for her, accusing her of stealing rock'n'roll memorabilia from his home.

She went back inside and he followed her in. He told her to go upstairs and get undressed. She refused, and he hit her with the gun again. Melvin grabbed her keys and ran out to her car, attempting to escape. But when she drove to the end of the driveway, she found that the gates were locked.

Spector ran down the driveway after her, this time with a shotgun. "I told you to get the f—k out of here," he shouted.

"The gate won't open!" she cried, fearing that he would shoot her.

Melvin testified that Spector suddenly stopped threatening her and ran back to the house to open the gate.

She called the police to help her retrieve her purse from Spector's house but did not press charges, even though she had suffered a small cut and welts to her head. She explained that she didn't want the negative publicity. She testified that she had stayed in contact with Spector after the incident and admitted that she was flattered whenever he showed interest in her.


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