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Extended Audio Sample Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector, by Mick Brown Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (274 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mick Brown Narrator: Ray Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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-one, and the owner of his own record label by twenty-two. He scored hit after hit using a new technique called the “wall of sound.”

But the reign of the boy-man who owned pop culture seemed doomed by the “British Invasion,” and he spiraled into paranoid isolation and peculiar behavior. Though he seemed to improve for a time, even returning to the recording studio to work, it didn’t last—in 2003 the actress Lana Clarkson was found dead in his home, killed by gunshot.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An intimate portrait…Brown’s passionate analysis of Spector’s body of work elevate what could have been a gossipy tell-all to a gripping anecdotal portrait of a musical genius crippled by lifelong emotional problems.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “A remarkable book about, among other things, fame, obsession, genius, money, and madness…This is the definitive study of the man and the myth that engulfed him.” 

    Observer (London)

  • “A rare and wonderful mix of dogged research and vivid storytelling. Virtually every page carries a tale of farce or horror, or, more often than not, both.”

    Mail on Sunday

  • “A fascinating, detailed look at the life and career of one of the biggest names in music. It’s a study not just of Spector’s mental problems but of how he was able to use his obsessions to create some of the most memorable and influential music in history…It’s a great portrait of where genius and madness meet.”

    Rocky Mountain News

  • “Stacked with incredible anecdotes, Brown’s entertaining and nuanced portrait lifts the fog of myth and outright falsehood (including Spector’s own) that has obscured the celebrity producer through the years.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Brown chronicles the producer’s eccentricities, insecurities, perfectionism, and brilliant talent to engrossing effect…Essential for all libraries.”

    Library Journal

  • “One of the most compelling, memorable rock-’n’-roll biographies in recent memory. Brown’s passionate, über-detailed study of pop’s scariest visionary is just about as good as a music bio can get.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Porter’s reading of Brown’s biography does a solid job of hitting the high notes, maintaining an even tone and reading with understated panache.”

    Publishers Weekly (audio review)

  • “[Phil Spector’s] story is spectacularly captured in Ray Porter’s narration of this detailed biography…Porter delivers this portrait in an authoritative anchorman’s voice, making the more bizarre and chilling passages even more so…[Spector’s] life rises and falls as dramatically as his music.”


Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Gregarious cline | 2/19/2014

    " 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). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Babs | 2/13/2014

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Yael | 2/13/2014

    " Phil Spector's life is a terrible tragedy. Genius and madness are often separated only by a nanometer thick wall. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ellen | 2/5/2014

    " Phil Spector is a very disturbed/disturbing person but the book is interesting & worth reading if you are into his music. "

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About the Author

Mick Brown was born in London in 1950 and has interviewed Salvador Dali, the Rolling Stones, James Brown, Don DeLillo, Richard Ford, Ravi Shankar, and the Dalai Lama. He has written several books as well, on Richard Branson, the movie Performance, and a guide to America through pop songs.