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Tearing Down The Wall Of Sound: The Rise And Fall Of Phil Spector

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  564 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Phil Spector, born in the Bronx in 1939, grew up an outsider despised by his peers. Yet after his family moved to California, he learned everything he could about music, formed a band, and had a number-one hit with "To Know Him Is to Love Him." He quickly became the top producer of early rock and roll, originator of such girl groups as the Ronettes, a millionaire by twenty ...more
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Published June 5th 2007 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2007)
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally here.)

You would think that a person could do no wrong by penning a biography of infamous record producer and gun-brandishing recluse Phil Spector -- after all, the man either wrote or engineered a huge amount of what we now consider the "classic rock" hits of the 1950s and '60s; then near the end of his pra
...more
Jill Hutchinson
I am a great fan of Phil Spector's music productions, especially the songs of the Ronettes and the Crystals. When the infamous murder trial became news I was reminded that he had pretty much dropped from sight for a number of years and was curious to find out more about his strange and troubled life. This book fills in most of the blanks.

This was written as the first trial, which ended in a hung jury, was in progress, although I have heard that the book was updated after the second trial resulte
...more
Jen
Jan 01, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to know what the heck happened to Phil Spector
Here's a passage from the book--from 1977 when Phil Spector was in the studio producing a new album for Leonard Cohen--which pretty much sums it up:

"Cohen recognized what Spector himself, and a few around him, were not prepared to acknowledge or admit--that Spector was not merely eccentric but seriously disturbed."

I also found a Newsweek pictorial of his hairstyles over the years, "Hairdo Ron Ron":
http://www.newsweek.com/id/193816
Maureen
Jan 01, 2013 Maureen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, scandal, music
I have a hard time thinking of anyone who makes my skin crawl more than Phil Spector: he was known for his megalomania, outrageous behavior, and for being one of the biggest jerks in an industry where they replicate inconsiderate, soul-sucking assholes in Petri dishes for fun and profit. Author Mick Brown took on a Herculean task, just trying to shovel his way through the Augean stables of Spector's life, where double-dealing in business, betrayed ex-wives and ex-girlfriends, studio machinations ...more
Craig Johnson
Dec 27, 2008 Craig Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliance, Guns and Harmony. Even before the whole accidental murder of Lana Clarkson there were a handful of stories about how Spector would brandish guns at people, but we mortals only got to hear about the more famous targets: John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, the Ramones. What is truly amazing is that there are a few dozen more stories out there from musicians, houseguests, girlfriends, and random passerbys who got to stare at the little freak aiming a gun at them. It would be easy for someone to ...more
Lee Anne
I need an update! This book was written after the death of Lana Clarkson, but before the two trials that would send Spector to prison. After watching David Mamet's made for HBO hagiography of Phil Spector (sadly, ironically, starring Al Pacino, whom Spector always longed to have portray him in a movie of his life), I felt the need to "read more about it." This biography provided a portrait of the sad, insecure man that is Phil Spector, and how he came to his downfall.

Aside from wishing it went
...more
Vanessa
It was a fascinating read. I have heard whispered stories for years about Spector because I am a fan of John Lennon, The Ramones, Darlene Love and Leonard Cohen.Here are a lot of the stories pieced together in one place. Too bad the book doesn't make it as far as his actual murder trial-that would have been fascinating. Anyway, when it is all said and done, he is responsible for some of the most influential sounds of the 20th century.What a waste of talent. As a woman, I am saddened by his lack ...more
Guido Colacci
Dec 26, 2016 Guido Colacci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be MANDATORY reading for anyone who is interested in American Rock and Roll history.
Blog on Books
Mar 29, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Veteran U.K. music journalist Mick Brown was the last reporter to interview Phil Spector before he was arrested and charged with the murder of Lana Clarkson. During their rambling four-hour discussion, the legendary producer tellingly admitted, "I have devils inside that fight me. And I'm my own worst enemy." The story ran in the U.K. Telegraph just two days before Clarkson was found shot to death in Spector's spooky Alhambra mansion, and undoubtedly this book would not exist if it weren't for t ...more
Ben
Jan 20, 2014 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adulthood, music
This is a great rock biography. The author's uncanny timing of interviewing him just weeks before Spector is arrested for murder frames the book incredibly well. We start with the interview, where Spector is at his most reflective, then we go through his entire life, then we get the interview again.

The author did a fantastic job of reassessing Spector's character throughout his life. Too often, biographies settle on a few key themes and keep circling back to them, but Spector changed so dramati
...more
Kathleen Hagen
Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, by Nick Brown, Narrated by Ray Porter, Produced by Blackstone Audio, downloaded from audible.com.

This is the strange story of Phil Spector, in some ways a musical genius, who developed what was referred to as “the wall of sound” which resulted in such monster hits as “You’ve Lost that Luvvin Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. He was a millionaire by age 21. But he was always very strange. The wall of sound faded into oblivion with the English Invasion. He had som
...more
Jennie
Oct 29, 2009 Jennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Mick Brown's Tearing Down the Wall of Sound is a well written and engaging story of the arc of Phil Spector's life and musical career. Brown tears down the wall of sound, exposing the man behind the music. The book begins with his early days in tragic detail giving the reader a glimpse of the musical genius as a wounded child of an absent father (who committed suicide when Spector was a boy) and an overbearing mother. Brown is at his best when he traces the early history of rock 'n roll and the ...more
Dave
Jan 24, 2017 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this book at the Half Price Book store in Greenfield, but decided rather than buying it that I would just get it on loan from the library.
I didn't know much about Spector at all besides hearing about his "wall of sound" production technique which mainly involved having multiple instruments being recorded all at the same time and his reign over the Beatles "Let it Be" tapes which Paul McCartney detested ( but picked up the Grammy for that year in 1970 just the same ).
Spector's life was
...more
Randolph Carter
Okay biography that certainly concentrates on the fall of one of pop musics great innovators and early producers. The obviously wildly bipolar Spector, the biography certainly makes a diagnosis in all but statement. The biography stops short of the verdict in the Lana Clarkson murder, an incident that seemed fated from early on.
Rebecca
Jan 25, 2017 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the trajectory of this biography, Phil Spector goes from a quirky young songwriter and musician in fleeting pop act The Teddy Bears circa 1958, to a deeply disturbed and borderline insane music industry genius accused of murder circa 2002. Mick Brown's portrayal of Spector as the creative and not totally unsympathetic being is carefully constructed and told in building vignettes that make it hard to believe you are still reading about the same person by the end. I always find it hard to decip ...more
Alicia
Oct 11, 2010 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fascinating read, almost the whole way through. I loved the chapters about the creation of the Wall of Sound and Phil's big hits and famous failures, and the anecdotes detailing the music culture of the '60s and '70s. (The book is worth reading alone for the chapter about Phil's crazy adventures with John Lennon while working on "Rock 'n' Roll.") My interest waned a little as the book moved past the music and onto Phil's descent into almost total lunacy, though I can certainly understand ...more
Tom Schulte
Jul 02, 2011 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating insight into icon/tragedy/high functioning mad man Phil Spector. The birth of the girl group sound and the "wall of sound" from The Crystals to "Let it Be" and the John Lennon "Rock N' Roll" album get coverage making this a music history entwince witht he true crime tale of the foyer gunshot that brought it all crashing down. When this book was published, Spector has not yet been found guilt, let alone appealed lost and sentenced. However, the near hour-by-hour retelling of ...more
Herzog
Apr 15, 2012 Herzog rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I'm a big fan of Spector's work, in particular with the Ronettes and Crystals. This book is a very detailed, anecdote packed account of Spector's life. He achieved such amazing success in his mid-20's that his career was essentially over before he was 30! He had the money to sustain him for the rest of his life and his many foibles seem the excesses of an idle rich person. He clearly had mental health issues culminating in the sad random murder at his castle.
Mary
Aug 01, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at a divided personality

Well written, good research. Just a sad story.

Spector pulled a gun on LOTS of people over decades. It's a shame none of them pressed charges. The poor victim might still be alive. And Spector would have been forced to get effective treatment. He was seeing a psychiatrist and on lots of medication. But he apparently wasn't consistent, and also added alcohol to the mix.
Bryn Powell
Aug 26, 2014 Bryn Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough and very interesting biography of a very successful yet strange character. While it doesn't go into the recording aspect enough for my liking (but then again music production is essentially just chucking some microphones in front of instruments and listening to what they sound like) it's certainly worth a go if you've got any love for 60's music, the music business of the time or Spector's studio mannerism.
Marisa
Mar 26, 2011 Marisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the author does a good job of covering Phil Spector, the actual Phil Spector comes across as a horrible, conniving and uncaring human being, ultimately ruining my reading experience and soiling my love for the great Ronette songs of the 1960s. Some interesting anecdotes -- Brian Wilson idolized Spector and one of his more famous songs is a homage to Spector -- but overall, Spector's personality isn't enough to save this book.
Gregarious cline
Excellent, balanced insight into a true maver..ick and weirdo. Mick Brown does an amazing job of conveying the "whats", "whys", and "huhs?" that lead to Spector's askew relationship to his world and ours. The chapter about Lenny Bruce was incredibly compassionate and a welcome emotional pause to drive home the point that Spector was more tortured than "evil" (although, he was a big dick).
Greg
Mar 24, 2015 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful addition to the library of any music history buff. Spector is an endlessly interesting and entertaining personality to read about. Like most geniuses, he's spontaneously crazy, which lends to the book's excitement. But his accomplishments alone which are recounted here are simply astounding. Very well-written biography. The author maintains a respectful tone that Spector deserves regardless of his faults and flaws.
Jenny
Apr 27, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you Enjoy reading about truly terrible people, this book will interest you. For me it was a bit like watching a train wreck. When Phil starts waving hiS gun around i really wanted to put it down but found I could not. The beginning of his life was not without pathos. Both horrible and fascinating.
Linda
Apr 18, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating book. It's especially wonderful as they talk about all these famous people that I know and all those hit songs, that I now am singing again. I'm loving this.

loved this book/ love nonfiction/ loved hearing names/ songs I knew and what a wild and wierd and sad person Phil Spector was, though most of the time I wanted to give him a spanking.
sid
May 21, 2012 sid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fascinating account of a tortured/disturbed artist. Read by the same performer who did the Bobby Fischer biography I reviewed...and I still cannot decide if I care for his particular style.

There is a disappointingly abrupt end to the book, before the actual trial occurs. I would have enjoyed hearing more about the proceedings that followed between 2007 and today. (2012)
Kara
Jul 22, 2008 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this! The author is Mick Brown.
Mick Brown had written a scathing article on Spector portraying him as crazy. Phil read this article the next day and was infuriated, breaking a year long sobriety streak and getting loaded. Within 24 hours Lana Clarkson was dead.
A must read for anyone who followed the Spector trial or WILL follow the re-trial in the Fall of 2008.
Babs
Oct 22, 2007 Babs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yvette
Makes you wonder how someone who exhibited signs of insanity so early on in life, got so far. Brilliant, multi-faceted look at the rise and fall of Phil Spector- with lots of famous names thrown in.
Alex
Aug 03, 2007 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: geniuses who exist in a constant state of mental agitation
A man supervises the recording of some of the greatest songs of all time, tries to hire the banjo kid from "Deliverance" to play at his birthday party, and then (allegedly) becomes a wig-wearing crazy person. When he is accused of shooting somebody, no one is surprised.
Slim Khezri
Apr 18, 2013 Slim Khezri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Indispensable rock and roll history, rich in detail about song making and song makers. Fun scandalous detail, tho the legal royalty battles and sidetracks on other people stretch it out a little. Good Book!
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Mick Brown (born 1950 in London) is a journalist who has written for several British newspapers, including The Guardian and The Sunday Times and for international publications. For many years he has contributed regularly to The Telegraph. He is also a broadcaster and the author of several books
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