Phil Spector's sons: Dad caged us

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Feb 10, 2003, 9:39:16 AM2/10/03
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By DEREK ROSE
NY DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Two of Phil Spector's adopted children say he kept them captive as young boys
and forced them to perform sex acts with one of his girlfriends, a London
newspaper reported yesterday. "For years, we were just caged animals to be let
out for Dad's amusement," Donte Spector told the Mail on Sunday.

The paper quoted Donte and Gary Spector recounting bizarre tales of abuse after
their father divorced their adopted mom, singer Ronnie Spector.

Donte Spector, 33, said he was forced to perform simulated intercourse with his
father's girlfriend. When he was 9, he was handcuffed and blindfolded for her
amusement, he said.

"I was blindfolded and sexually molested," said Gary Spector, 36. "Dad would
say, 'You're going to meet someone,' and it would be a 'learning experience.'"

The sons accused their father, who faces a murder rap and is free on $1 million
bail, of holding them prisoners in his estate fortified with barbed wire and
window bars. "Our family lived in fear," Gary Spector said. "We were locked in
our separate rooms by our governess, let out for breakfast, then taken to
school by guards."

Reached last night, Donte Spector confirmed the sexual abuse allegations.

"Let's put it this way - I come from a very sick, twisted, dysfunctional
family," he told the Daily News.

Donte Spector said he is trying to sell his story. Gary Spector could not be
reached for comment.

Phil Spector, charged with shooting B-movie actress Lana Clarkson on Feb.3, is
in seclusion. His lawyer, Robert Shapiro, did not return calls.

Marvin Mitchelson, a high-profile Los Angeles lawyer and friend of Phil
Spector, said he doubts the allegations.

"I've known [Phil Spector] a long time," he said, "and have never heard of such
a thing."
* * *
Las Vegas Review-Journal/NORM CLARK
Phil Spector "never showed a violent side, but he was a weird cat," says Sweet
Louie of the Checkmates.

Spector, the legendary record producer whose "wall of sound" transformed the
sound of pop music in the 1960s, was arrested Feb. 3 in Alhambra, Calif., and
charged in the slaying of actress Lana Clarkson, who was found dead in his
castlelike home.

Spector produced "Black Pearl" and "Proud Mary" for the Checkmates, with Sonny
Charles singing lead on both and Louie on drums.

Ike and Tina Turner turned "Proud Mary" into a major hit.

The Righteous Brothers, who appear at the Orleans starting Tuesday through Feb.
23, enjoyed major success with Spector, who also produced for The Beatles.

Spector not only produced The Righteous Brothers' biggest hit, "You've Lost
That Lovin' Feelin'," the most-played song in the history of American radio,
but co-wrote it with Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

Spector's mercurial moods were legendary.

"We'd be having a session and he'd cancel for some quirky reason," recalled
Louie, who still is teaming up with Charles at Arizona Charlie's West.
* * *
'From madman to gentleman'
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY

A decade ago, friends might have greeted reports of Phil Spector's arrest on
investigation of murder charges with a knowing grimace. A week ago, the news
that the storied record producer was suspected of killing Lana Clarkson, a
B-movie actress, struck pals and peers as inconceivable.

Spector, 62, has long been regarded as pop's mad genius. Admired as the sound
wizard who crafted three-minute symphonies about teen heartache, Spector also
built a reputation as a reclusive, gun-toting control freak prone to paranoia
and irrational outbursts. (Related item: Producer was the star of his records)

But cohorts and colleagues say the tortured eccentric had turned his life
around in recent years.

"Phil became a pussycat," says Los Angeles artist Hudson Marquez, a longtime
acquaintance and frequent guest at Spector's periodic bowling parties. "Over
the past 10 years, I've seen him go from a madman on the loose to a complete
gentleman, generous beyond belief and overly polite. He no longer had
bodyguards, just a driver. The change was enormous. I can't believe what's
happened."

What happened has yet to be fully detailed by authorities. This much is known:
Shortly after 5 a.m. on Feb. 3, police responded to a 911 call and found the
body of Clarkson, 40, at Spector's hilltop faux castle in Alhambra, a suburb
northeast of L.A. Shot in the face, she died in a pool of blood on the marble
floor of his foyer, where police retrieved a gun they suspect is the murder
weapon. Spector, who was found standing in the entranceway, was arrested at
6:09 a.m. and released at about 7 p.m. after posting $1 million bail.

Details of events leading to Clarkson's death remain spotty. Spector reportedly
dined with another woman late Sunday night at West Hollywood eatery Dan Tana's,
a popular celebrity hangout. He sat at his usual table and left a $500 tip for
a $55 meal.

Spector next stopped at the House of Blues nightclub on Sunset Strip, where
Clarkson worked as a hostess in the upstairs Foundation Room, a VIP lounge.
When her shift ended at 2 a.m., they left in Spector's chauffeur-driven new
black Mercedes. Early reports suggest the two first met that night. Other
sources say the relationship began months ago.

Neighbors and Spector's driver, who alerted police, heard shots fired from
inside the 1926 mansion, a replica of a Pyrenean chateau that the producer
bought for $1.1 million in 1998.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Spector resisted arrest, was restrained and
later was taken to a hospital. He refused to speak to police. His lawyer, O.J.
Simpson defense team alumnus Robert Shapiro, has declined all media inquiries.

Spector, who has yet to be formally charged, is expected to enter a plea at his
arraignment March 3. Because he posted bail, the district attorney's office was
not forced to present a case within 48 hours. In light of intense media
attention and the humiliating defeat in the Simpson prosecution, police could
be treading carefully and meticulously assembling evidence to prosecute another
celebrity murder suspect.

Clarkson, the star of Roger Corman's Barbarian Queen and a bit player in
Scarface and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, acted in more than 50 TV shows but
never achieved mainstream success. In a statement, Corman described her as "a
beautiful woman, a wonderful actress and an adventurous spirit."

She lived in a tiny rented house not far from Venice Beach and took a job at
House of Blues to augment her dwindling income. Her credits are catalogued on
her Web site (www.livingdollproductions.com), where a post from attorney
Roderick J. Lindblom pleads with fans to respect the privacy of Clarkson's
grieving relatives, who he says are cooperating with investigators.

Results of an autopsy have not been released, and toxicology tests, routine for
homicide victims, are underway. Police briefly impounded Spector's car and
seized more than one gun from the home.

Spector's sudden notoriety as a murder suspect does not square with his
personality of late. At his annual bowling party last fall in Montrose, north
of Los Angeles, about 200 guests noshed on burgers and fries, sipped beer and
wine and listened to a live band while taking turns at the lanes. Spector, in a
shoulder-length black wig, arrived late in the evening, without bodyguards, and
warmly greeted friends and posed for photos with fans on the sidewalk outside.

It offered a striking contrast to the specter of violence that haunted his
earlier persona. A slight man (5-foot-7 and 135 pounds), Spector regularly
carried a gun and is said to have frequently aimed it at collaborators. John
Lennon, who worked with the producer on four albums, reported that Spector
fired a gun in the studio. Dee Dee Ramone says Spector pointed a gun at him and
held him hostage for two days while producing The Ramones' End of the Century
more than 20 years ago.

And in 1989, when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a
drunken Spector took the stage with three burly bodyguards, who ominously kept
a hand tucked under their jackets.

Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen says Spector and his entourage "were armed to
the teeth" during studio sessions for 1978's Death of a Ladies' Man, according
to a 1994 BBC radio show transcript.

Cohen said: "The atmosphere was one of guns. All his friends, his bodyguards
and everybody was drunk, or intoxicated on other items, so you were slipping
over bullets and you were biting into revolvers in your hamburger. When he got
into the studio, it was clear that he was an eccentric, but I didn't know that
he was mad."

Yet Cohen told the BBC that Spector's demons finally abated: "He's not mad any
longer. I've spoken to him on the phone recently; he's quite reasonable and
calm."

The impression is echoed by other people in Spector's orbit.

Much of Spector's earlier menace was a bluff, says Marquez, who recalled a
visit to the producer's former home in Pasadena. Spector warned guests not to
venture outside because his guard dogs were loose. Marquez peeked outside and
spied two frisky Irish setters "who might have licked you to death."

"He's not a gregarious guy to those who don't know him, but he's not a true
recluse," says music publicist Bob Merlis, a friend of Spector's since the late
'70s. "He goes to public events, and people can approach him. There is no
implication that some bruiser would keep you away.

"I know the stories about the guns, but I've never seen Phil and a firearm in
the same place. If he had a gun on him, I certainly was not aware of it. Once I
got to know him, I got very comfortable with him. I always looked forward to
hanging out with him."

When Spector hosts a party, as he typically does after the annual Rock Hall
dinner, "you don't have to drop a name to get in," Merlis says. "Everyone is
invited. Phil is very convivial, always very cordial."

Loath to pick up a phone, Spector strengthened connections after the advent of
e-mail.

"When the e-mail era began, you knew he was thinking about you," Merlis says.
"He sends jokes on a regular basis. He's a good correspondent."

Those who know Spector say that contrary to tales of his dark side, he has a
splendid sense of humor and a sharp mind with passion for the law and politics.

"He can do great impressions of artists he has worked with," Merlis says. "He
does a brilliant John Lennon and a letter-perfect Ike Turner. And he's a great
public speaker. Phil's eulogy at the 2000 funeral of Jack Nitzsche, his
arranger for many years, was brilliant. He was cogent and amazingly eloquent."

Merlis was blindsided by news of Spector's arrest. "I'm devastated. It's pretty
overwhelming."

Likewise, palimony lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, Spector's best friend for the past
13 years, was staggered.

"It's inconceivable to me that Phil would meet someone, take her home and shoot
her dead," says Mitchelson, who says he has not seen Spector since the arrest.
"There's no motive. I think the police are having trouble with that.

"I know a different Phil Spector. If you knew Phil, you loved him. No matter
what his reputation was in the past — all these stories about him waving a
gun around — he never shot at anyone. When he had these musicians in the
studio, it was long and harrowing, but that's how he got the Wall of Sound: one
note at a time. Everyone has demons and problems. Nobody goes along blissfully
at room temperature."

Two weeks before Christmas, Mitchelson and Spector attended a Christmas party
in Bel Air.

"Buzz Aldrin was there," Mitchelson recalls. "I think he was a little drunk,
but Phil was totally sober. I know that in the last 3&frac_one_half; years,
Phil wasn't drinking at all. He ordered Coca-Cola."

Spector had been revitalized by last summer's work in a London studio with
rising band Starsailor.

"He was loving life, because he was back into producing," Mitchelson says. "He
was upbeat, happy and together."

After director Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise abandoned a Spector biopic,
Mitchelson began pursuing the project.

"I wanted to write a story on his life," he says. "I spent hours digging into
his psyche, and the net result is no real violence at all. (Clarkson's death)
is such a tragic thing, so shocking. I don't believe it was intended, if he
even did it. It's untoward and unlikely he'd do this without some reason we
can't understand yet. He'd never take out a gun and shoot anyone."

In a rare interview granted four weeks ago, Spector told the London Telegraph
that he had bipolar tendencies and was taking medication for schizophrenia.

"I don't like to talk," he said. "I can't stand to be talked about. ... I can't
stand the attention."

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