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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: October 2007 ISBN: 9781455187881
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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.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alicia | 1/24/2014

    " 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 why Mick Brown felt the need to delve into it as much as he did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 1/15/2014

    " 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 that fateful night including police call transcripts are particularly revealing on that crime. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 1/9/2014

    " I could not put this book down. An engaging description of genius gone very very wrong. This book makes a good argument for the thin line between genius and insanity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Giddens | 1/7/2014

    " magnificent book about the most misunderstood character in pop music...a must read for anybody that likes pop music. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan | 1/5/2014

    " phil spector: genius or crazy? crazy-genius? i'm still not sure. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 12/14/2013

    " Great book. Loved reading about Spector and his insanity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jesse | 11/16/2013

    " Brown has the advantage of being the last journalist to interview the reclusive Spector before he killed Lana Clarkson, though this is no rush-job. Not as good as Ribowsky's as "He's A Rebel." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele Longenbach | 10/15/2013

    " Kind of frustrating that this book was finished before the trial. I was not following the case and still don't know what happened! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 10/6/2013

    " I really liked this. It was a weird mix of the history of rock 'n roll, a study of someone's struggle with mental illness and how that illness manifests itself in a lifestyle where almost anything goes, and a little Court TV thrown in at the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christian Richardsøn | 9/14/2013

    " A fascinating and in-depth look into the mind and workings of a genius whose tribulations and self-doubt were never eclipsed by his successes in life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Scott Finley | 12/21/2012

    " I went from reading about the coolest guy in music (Keith Richards) to maybe the un-coolest. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 9/26/2012

    " Not perfect and rather obviously ripe for revision, but the best Spector biography so far by a writer who not only covers every aspect of his subject's life but also understands his music. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Slim Khezri | 3/6/2012

    " 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! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Henry | 11/13/2011

    " Second warm-up for the 52 musician biographies I plan to read in 2012. Good account of the life of this genius/sociopath, but suffers from repetition. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol Reed | 10/22/2011

    " Excellent, objective biography of Phil Spector and an amazing 'review' of rock-n-roll history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 1/30/2011

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phil | 9/7/2010

    " Most of this book shows the evolution of a boy-genius in the music industy in the 50's-60's-70's. It dwells only briefly on his current circumstances(accused of murder). Its a bit of a "downer" at the end bust fascinating non the less. Watch him meet Sonny, Cher, The Beatles and many more. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 flannery | 4/7/2010

    " "mr. spector, tear down this wall of sound!" competently written, kinda sucky. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 11/16/2009

    " Oh, Phil Spector... This book was a little slow, but every bit of information was essential to the understanding of Spector's character. I found it especially interesting, having read Ronnie Spector's autobiography ("Be My Baby") in the past, which paints a pretty different picture. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah Brown | 10/6/2009

    " I was hooked quickly and couldn't get enough.Fascinating look into behind the scenes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason Coffman | 8/18/2009

    " Dense, incredibly detailed book about the history of insane genius Phil Spector, from his first record with the Teddy Bears all the way up to the end of the Lana Clarkson trial. Excellent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 5/18/2009

    " Excellent, objective biography of Phil Spector and an amazing 'review' of rock-n-roll history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 2/9/2009

    " Dense, incredibly detailed book about the history of insane genius Phil Spector, from his first record with the Teddy Bears all the way up to the end of the Lana Clarkson trial. Excellent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yael | 11/13/2008

    " 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 Ellen | 11/2/2008

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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nina | 9/2/2008

    " A well-researched tale of a truly bizarre personality "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fran | 7/27/2008

    " should have been a page-turner, actually it was slow "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 6/22/2008

    " magnificent book about the most misunderstood character in pop music...a must read for anybody that likes pop music. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 4/19/2008

    " I really liked this. It was a weird mix of the history of rock 'n roll, a study of someone's struggle with mental illness and how that illness manifests itself in a lifestyle where almost anything goes, and a little Court TV thrown in at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 2/5/2008

    " I could not put this book down. An engaging description of genius gone very very wrong. This book makes a good argument for the thin line between genius and insanity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 12/27/2007

    " Oh, Phil Spector... This book was a little slow, but every bit of information was essential to the understanding of Spector's character. I found it especially interesting, having read Ronnie Spector's autobiography ("Be My Baby") in the past, which paints a pretty different picture. "

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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.

About the Narrator

Ray Porter has garnered two Audie nominations and a multitude of enthusiastic reviews for his sparkling narration of audiobooks. He has also appeared in numerous films and television shows, including Frasier, ER, Will & Grace, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Almost Famous. He has most recently received Audible’s Narrator of the Year Award. A fifteen-year veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.