Covid-19 killed Phil Spector, one of the most influential and successful rock and roll record producers who spent the last chapter of his life in prison for murder.
Mr Spector, 81, died on Saturday of complications from Covid-19, so did his daughter Nicole Audrey Spector.
Ms. Spector said she visited her father the day before his death at San Joaquin General Hospital near Modesto, California. He was unconscious and “appeared to be suffering,” she said.
She said she was with him when he died: “He wasn’t alone. He died with love and dignity. “
Some of the largest clusters of coronavirus infections have emerged in the country’s prisons, and some of these outbreaks have spilled into surrounding communities. In total, more than 1,000 cases were recorded in 25 California prisons during the pandemic.
The largest outbreak was in the crowded Avenal in central California, where more than 3,500 infections have been recorded. Whether and when inmates should be vaccinated is controversial in view of the limited vaccine supply.
A trailblazing producer, Mr. Spector was a one-man hit factory that put 24 records in the top 40 between 1960 and 1965 alone. Many were classics from bands like the Crystals, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers.
But it went into decline for decades after the ambitious Wall of Sound recording he made with Tina Turner in 1966, River Deep, Mountain High, hit the US charts. His behavior became erratic, often including his extensive collection of handguns and heavy drinking.
Since 2009, Mr. Spector has been serving a prison sentence for the murder of Lana Clarkson, a nightclub hostess, whom he took home after a night of drinking in 2003. Los Angeles police found her on a chair in the foyer of his Alhambra mansion, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
He first served at the California Drug Abuse Treatment Facility and Corcoran State Prison near Fresno, and then moved to the California Health Facility, a medical and psychiatric detention facility in Stockton.
His daughter said he got very sick before he was admitted to San Joaquin General Hospital on December 31st. She said he was intubated in early January.
Mrs. Spector spoke to her father by telephone in late December. He “was wheezing badly, couldn’t take a sentence without a cough, couldn’t swallow or eat,” she said. “He asked for medical help.”
It was their last conversation.
On Sunday, she issued a statement asking for privacy for the family and thanking the medical team who last treated her father.
She blamed “cruelty and neglect” at the California health facility for his death. She called Mr. Spector her “best friend and the creator of so much perfect music” and claimed he was innocent of the murder for which he was convicted.