Suicide prevention: ‘My brother faced stigma, red tape, long waiting times, under-resourced hospitals. In the end it was too much’
Suicide prevention: ‘My brother faced stigma, red tape, long waiting times, under-resourced hospitals. In the...

Amanda Cassidy

This Leeson St home on sale for €2 million is family-friendly but perfect for city living
This Leeson St home on sale for €2 million is family-friendly but perfect for city...

Megan Burns

You will not believe how they made THAT Zendaya Balmain dress
You will not believe how they made THAT Zendaya Balmain dress

Lauren Heskin

If you only see one film in the cinema this year, make it this powerful Irish feature
If you only see one film in the cinema this year, make it this powerful...

Meg Walker

Postpartum Psychosis: ‘It hit me completely out of the blue’
Postpartum Psychosis: ‘It hit me completely out of the blue’

Amanda Cassidy

4 Irish female bosses on getting organised, confidence and the importance of creativity
4 Irish female bosses on getting organised, confidence and the importance of creativity

Shayna Sappington

Two beauty industry stalwarts have teamed up to save cruelty-free cosmetics in Europe
Two beauty industry stalwarts have teamed up to save cruelty-free cosmetics in Europe

Sarah Finnan

Why negotiating a ‘jobbymoon’ before you start your new job is actually a great idea
Why negotiating a ‘jobbymoon’ before you start your new job is actually a great idea

Erin Lindsay

Skin Proud is Glossier’s new 100% vegan and cruelty-free competitor
Skin Proud is Glossier’s new 100% vegan and cruelty-free competitor

Sarah Finnan

The dos and don’ts of supporting someone who might be suicidal
The dos and don’ts of supporting someone who might be suicidal

Erin Lindsay

Image / Agenda / Image Writes

Let’s stop calling Phil Spector a ‘flawed genius’ when he was a murderer


by Jennifer McShane
18th Jan 2021

Despite the headlines from Rolling Stone, the BBC, CNN and others, the producer was, first and foremost, a murderer. Not saying this straight off the bat belittles Lana Clarkson, the actress he shot and killed in cold blood. In this way, our fascination with ‘famous’ convicted killers continues. And it’s wholly immoral and wrong, writes Jennifer McShane


The headlines began without any mention of the murder before the edits. CNN tweeted: “Grammy-winning music producer Phil Spector dies of natural causes,” before revising the headline. Reuters’ tweet mentioned Spector’s murder conviction, but made it seem like an afterthought: “Influential rock producer Phil Spector, who changed pop music and was convicted of killing actress Lana Clarkson, died at the age of 81.”

He was “influential.” A “gifted yet flawed genius.” To call his capacity to kill a “flaw” might be stretching it just a little. To be frank, it’s enraging. It’s wrong. It completely disrespects the memory of Lana and the other women in his life that he didn’t kill, but ensured they were physiologically abused.

The whole thing reeks of the Charles Manson treatment by the press where a fascination with the killers ensures the victims barely get a mention. 

No one is saying Spector didn’t have a substantial talent (his track record of hit singles is the proof) and he had his demons. Mental illness. Drugs. An “obsession with guns” but to focus on any of that ahead of his crime is unjust.

A history of abuse

For those that don’t know, Ronnie Spector (born Veronica Bennett) survived an abusive marriage to Spector, whom she met when he took her band the Ronettes (Ronnie, sister Estelle Bennett and cousin Nedra Talley) under his wing at the beginning of their career. Spector helped catapult the group in 1963 with the release of By My Baby (the opening number in Dirty Dancing for those that are too young to remember) and made her a star.

But it came with a price. He couldn’t bear it when she became a star. Became bigger than him. After Spector married him in 1968, the Ronettes disbanded and he kept Spector a virtual prisoner in their Beverly Hills mansion, which he allegedly surrounded with barbed wire and guard dog and apparently “installed a gold coffin with a glass top in the basement, promising that he would kill her and display her corpse if she ever left him,” according to her official biography. She got away. Her star shone brightly.

The shunning of female victims

In 2003, actress Lana Clarkson did not, unfortunately, escape his clutches. She was tragically found dead with a gunshot wound in Spector’s home in California at just 40 years old.

He claimed that she had accidentally shot herself or took her own life, but it was a lie. After two trials, he was convicted of second-degree murder and given a sentence of 19 years to life.

During his trials, the court also heard from four women who claimed Spector had threatened them with guns in the past when they had spurned his advances.

Lana was hugely talented, an actress and model who was in now cult films such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Night Court, Three’s Company, Knight Rider. She was more than a victim, devoted to causes that would help others  – in the 1980s she volunteered weekly at an AIDS charity Project which delivered food for those disabled by HIV or AIDS, at a time when the disease was greatly feared by the general public – living a full life before Spector murdered her, apparently after only two hours in his company.

Yet her name is forever marred because of her killer. It was he who marred her – and not the other way around as some of Spector’s fans have reportedly alluded to.

And still now, years later, we know this almost ‘shunning’ of female victims remains a real problem.

The Staircase, The Keepers, Making a Murderer, these are three of the most popular series on Netflix, all of which the killers seem to take centre stage and the female victims to a lesser extent, drive the narrative; the focus is, more often than not, less on the women who were killed and more what motivated the (usually male) killer. The ‘Hot Serial Killer’ narrative is, depressingly, very much a thing.

Related: The problem with the obsession over Charles Manson’s ‘girls’

Spector should be held to account like anyone else by the media, the public, as he was the law, famous music producer or not.

Lana deserves better.

Main photograph: @kevinabosch

Also Read

business
BUSINESS
Every mistake I’ve made in business has come from doing this 

“I had no idea that being my authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had,...

By Niamh Ennis

blank
AGENDA, EDITORIAL
When speaking about ageing, we should follow Julianne Moore’s lead

Actress Julianne Moore is tired of all the cliched tropes about female ageing. The way we speak about it; the...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
BUSINESS, EVENTS
How To: Master the Art of Negotiation – An event with Negotiation Strategist Natalie Reynolds

We sit down with Negotiation Strategist Natalie Reynolds, discussing key tactics and strategies used to master the art of negotiation...

By Shayna Sappington

blank
CULTURE
Judge denies Britney Spears’ request to remove father from conservatorship

The decision comes a week after Spears delivered a devastating testimony and, despite the appeal being filed late last year,...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
premium BUSINESS
The lingering gender pay gap: One woman’s expert advice on how to narrow it

Knowing how to navigate the gender gap is the first step to leaping across it, and hopefully narrowing it for other women. Author Joanne Lipman shares her expert advice.

By Meg Walker

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
BREAKING STORIES
Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family ask for their interviews be removed from new Sky TV documentary

Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family has requested that their interviews be removed from a new Jim Sheridan documentary that premiered...

By Sarah Finnan

Courtney Stodden
BREAKING STORIES
Courtney Stodden responds to Chrissy Teigen’s “cancel club” comments

Courtney Stodden recently spoke out about their past experiences with bullying, alleging that several famous faces sent them derogatory messages...

By Sarah Finnan