Friday, September 21, 2007

External Image is Everything

I've mentioned several times that Mick Brown's book is an excellent resource to understanding who is Phil Spector, and the complexities of his character. So, I've copied a page of text from his book, to give you an idea of how well researched the book is, and the wealth of information contained within. The intended purpose to post the excerpt is to educate and promote Mr. Brown's book.

Excerpt is from Chapter 8: "He Wanted to Be Thought Of as Interesting," pages 123-124

Note: "Bono" is Sonny Bono, of Sunny & Cher. "Nitzsche" is Jack Nitzsche.

In his autobiography Bono writes that Spector "wanted to be thought of as interesting." He was obsessed by his appearance and how other people would see him. Spector, Bono and Nitzsche would sometimes take photos of each other, practicing the coolest way of sitting in a car or striking a pose--sunglasses on, sunglasses off . . . "He would put one arm on the window, try steering with one finger, all sorts of different poses," remembered Bono. "Then he would have me stand outside the car and ask how he looked."

For a while, Spector harbored an infatuation with the singer Jackie DeShannon. One day he asked Bono, "If she saw me driving, do you think she'd like me better with my glasses on or off?"

Bono replied that he had no idea.

With a handful of surreptitious phone calls, Bono was able to find out DeShannon's schedule and calculate that she would be driving down Sunset Strip at a certain time. Spector and Bono stationed themselves on the street and, when DeShannon drove past, set off in pursuit. At length they pulled alongside her car. "Phil positioned himself so that he was sitting almost completely sideways," Bono remembered. "Most of his back was toward the window. He was, he thought, looking as cool as possible. From Jackie's point of view though, he was barely visible."

For a mile Spector drove parallel to DeShannon, holding the pose, until at last DeShannon turned off the Strip, apparently oblivious to the fact that it was Spector in the car beside hers. Spector, Bono remembered, was "crestfallen. 'Damn,' he said, 'the sunglasses probably scared her.'"

Spector's fastidiousness about his wardrobe and appearance could be comical, but it seemed to hint less at vanity than at some more troubling, underlying insecurity. Preparing for a recording session or a meeting, he would spend hours posturing in front of the mirror, matching different shirts and jackets, testing colognes and experimenting with different ways of combing his fast-thinning hair, which only Annette Merar was allowed to cut.

"And every single strand would have to be perfect . . . 'Okay, so fix it at the back to make it compensate for the bit at the font that's long.' But to me he was adorable, and a very sexy guy. I remember one occasion when we were living on Fifty-eighth Street, and he was going off to work dressed in a Beau Brummel kind of velvet vest and a jacket; his hair was perfect; he was just mesmerizing, and I just loved him so hard, but I never said anything. He walked out and closed the door and it was . . . 'Oh my God.' He was my type of guy."

Spector's obsession with his appearance would never leave him. For years afterward, whenever he was in company he would leave the room at frequent intervals to preen and primp in front of a mirror. "It wasn't arrogance or egotism," Annette says. "It was like the opposite that drove him to be perfect."
__________________________End of excerpt

It's clear that Annette Merar loved Spector and even after all these years spoke of him in a very affectionate and warm tone. But wow! The obsessiveness about his appearance speaks volumes about his deep set insecurities regarding his looks. (We can understand a bit more now, that huge mirror behind the chair where Lana Clarkson was murdered.) Spector's wardrobe obsession has been clearly evident at his murder trial. I can't help but mention that the child bride has had a similar problem with her wardrobe selections, too.


Michele said...

I couldn't help laughing at the visual of these men trying to make Spector cool, especially thinking of Spector trying to be cool for Jackie de Shannon's consideration. She was Jimmy Page's old girlfriend, for God's sake! JIMMY PAGE!!

Conceptualizing Spector's attempting to be cool, like Jimmy Page, helps me to understand when this man bought the funny farm! Phil should have concentrated on "inner beauty" and left it at that. He should have cherished that one woman who loved him for his lizard-lipped, chia-pet-haired, dorky elevator-shoed self, not his bank account, like the tacky trashy tart he purchased for the trial.

Page's inner beauty enabled him to weather the decades, by giving back to others, and his random acts of kindness are well-known. Page is in his 60s, too, but, he's still lovely and cool. What a far cry from that tiny manaical and twitching bewigged bully and has-been. We watched that demonic cold-blooded ghoul for five months in court, and saw no sign of a single decent bone in his body. Accompanied by that nasty trashy shrieking horse-toothed fetus bride propping him up, it makes him seem even more creepy, as if that were even possible! So uncool.

Too bad Phil didn't emulate Jimmy Page on the inside. That's what jazzed Jackie de Shannon and all the cool girls.

Marie said...

Wow, great insight into his life. Can't wait to read the book!

k said...

What Mick Brown states regarding PS obsessed with his appearance was confirmed by one of the prior bad acts witnesses... i think it was dorothy melvin... she said something to the effect that it was no uncommon for him to disappear for a couple of hours at a time.. she said he would spend much time in front of the mirror... weird.

Sprocket said...

Spector has had a self image problem for a long time. Sad, is all I can say.