Phil Spector Regains That Lovin’ Feelin’ for Producin’ : After 15 years of virtual retirement, the reclusive hitmaker will supervise Celine Dion’s new album.
Pop music’s biggest mystery man is back at work.
Phil Spector--the reclusive record producer whose “wall of sound” and teen romance songs defined early-'60s pop and became a key influence on such artists as the Beach Boys, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen--has set up shop in a Los Angeles studio, overseeing his first full production project since the Ramones’ 1980 release “End of the Century.”
The artist he’s chosen for this re-emergence: French-Canadian singer Celine Dion, who became an international hit with her 1991 duet with Peabo Bryson on “Beauty and the Beast.”
“He just really likes her voice,” says a Spector associate on why the producer chose to come out of retirement to work with the singer. It’s unclear at this time whether the Spector-Dion sessions will yield a full album or just several tracks. Spector’s representatives would not comment, while Dion’s manager was unavailable.
Though participants have been instructed not to talk about the sessions, we do know that Spector has had a steady stream of friends and admirers coming by Ocean Way Studio. The strangest assembly may have come one recent evening, when the producer was joined in the control booth by Beach Boy Brian Wilson, KROQ deejay Rodney Bingenheimer, divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson and star houseguest Kato Kaelin!
Spector, 54, dominated the charts in the early ‘60s with such grand-scale productions as the Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel” and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” But he went into near-retirement after Ike & Tina Turner’s 1966 “River Deep Mountain High"--which Spector considered his ultimate achievement--failed to become a hit.
Since then he’s taken on only such scattered projects as John Lennon’s “Rock and Roll” oldies collection, Leonard Cohen’s 1977 “Death of a Ladies Man” and the Ramones album.
He did return to the studio to work on some new songs shortly after the 1991 death of his 9-year-old son, Phillip Jr., from leukemia. The recordings were aborted, though, when Spector found himself emotionally unable to complete the work.