Monday, September 24, 2007

The Need For Bodyguards: Book Excerpt

This is a second excerpt from Mick Brown's book, Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, that I think gives some interesting insight into Spector's need for bodyguards. I swear, Mick is not paying me to promote his book, lol! As I'm getting deeper into it, I just want to share some of the history that is Spector. There are so many excerpts that I want to put up, it is difficult to choose which one to share with everybody.

The bodyguards that were in court every day have often been a topic on the blogs and the Court TV Phil Spector forum. I thought this excerpt would give everyone an interesting perspective on why Spector has bodyguards, and how far back into his past he's been employing them.

Excerpt from Chapter 11, "The Wall of Sound, It Kinda Sounds Tired," pages 159-160.

(Timeline, January, 1964. "Gold Star" was a recording studio Spector used almost exclusively.)

On his journey to London, Spector had been shadowed by a powerful and imposing presence that went by the name of Red--or "Big Red," as Spector called him. Red would be the first in a succession of bodyguards that Spector would hire over the years, partly for protection, but mostly it seemed as a demonstration of his rising status and power. "Phil wanted to be Elvis and Frank Sinatra combined," one friend remembers. "Those were his heroes. And he wanted that kind of persona, and cool, aloof thing, the entourage--all that protected crap."

Spector's flamboyant appearance--the hair, the elevator shoes, the ruffled shirts--had always drawn stares, and sometimes insults, but now with bodyguards at his side, he seemed almost to relish the prospect of confrontation, safe in the knowledge that if anybody caused trouble he had muscle on hand to deal with it.

"In 1965, you walk into a Hollywood restaurant looking like Phil Spector, there would be silence," Denny Bruce says. "Like, what the hell is that?! Which is why he'd have bodyguards. He would stand there with shades on, a P. J. Proby billowing shirt, a vest, two guys behind him. 'What's so funny?' He antagonized people. And he enjoyed that attention."

"Phil thrived on being different," Nedra Talle says. "He didn't want to just be a little Jewish boy. So he developed a look, but with that look he got a lot of harassment. People would be calling him faggot and all kinds of things, and he'd just have to swallow it. But when he had his bodyguards with him, it got to be that he would pick fights. We'd be in a restaurant and he'd walk out first, and it would be just like a magnet where people would be drawn to say something to him. Then Phil would say something back to them, and just when it was getting ugly he would step back and his two guys would step out from behind and handle the situation. It was like a trap."

Like LaLa Brooks, Nedra sensed that Spector's braggadocio was actually compensation for a much deeper underlying insecurity. Spector, she thought, was "a tortured soul." He had told the Ronettes the story of how when touring with the Teddy Bears he had been set upon in a lavatory and pissed on.

"When he told us that, something inside of me went out to him. I loved that song, 'To Know Him,' and the thought of this little guy who was too small to defend himself getting pissed on for just trying to do his thing, it broke my heart. So I always thought that, with the bodyguards, Phil was just getting his own back."

But to others, it seemed that Spector never quite knew when to stop. On one occasion, he even instructed his bodyguards to beat up Larry Levine, after an argument at Gold Star. "I walked out of the studio," Levine remembers, "and he sent these guys out to hit me--a couple of young gorillas. They didn't know what to do; they obviously weren't going to hit me. It was just another way of exhibiting power."


Unknown said...

In the immortal words of David Bryne:

Qu'est-ce que c'est?
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better
Run run run run run run run away."

this guy needs to be taken off the streets.