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Why Did John Lennon Let Phil Spector Produce His Let It Be Album?

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  • Tip Bones

During 1970, the greatest legendary record producer on the planet was Phil Spector. An eccentric record producer, Spector was far better than the rest. All the Beatles, and particularly John Lennon, (who loved the Motown girl groups) aspired to see what it was like to work with Spector. Eventually, Phil Spector's eccentricity got the best of him when he was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for murdering actress Lana Clarkson On February 3, 2003. Clarkson was killed in Spector's mansion (the Pyrenees Castle) in Alhambra, California.

Her body was found slumped in a chair with a single gunshot wound to her mouth with broken teeth scattered over the carpet. Spector told Esquire in July 2003 that Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide" and that she "kissed the gun".

The emergency call from Spector's home, made by Spector's driver, Adriano de Souza, quotes Spector as saying, "I think I've killed someone". De Souza added that he saw Spector come out of the back door of the house with a gun in his hand.

Anyways, enough about this loser. The point is, the Beatles were very dedicated working with George Martin. Rumors about the album which would become Let It Be, we’re all over the radio in the summer of 1969. But the album never materialized, and in the autumn, they released "Abby Road." At the same time, this was the inception of bootleg records, with the release of the stolen Dylan and the Band double album, The Great White Wonder. 

My friend purchased a bootleg, containing many of the songs that would make up Let It Be. And I think he paid about twice the price of a legitimate record album at that time. Incidentally, the Beatles got none of that money.

And unfortunately, George Martin had apparently given up on the Let It Be sessions, or at least couldn’t come to terms with the Beatles on how they should sound. 

Nonetheless, the Beatles, or at any rate Apple Records, at this point hemorrhaging money, needed to put these recordings out under its own label. This was done to prevent being further ripped off. Phil Spector was willing to do the job after working on the Lennon solo number, Instant Karma.

McCartney was never happy with Spector’s work on the record. I’ll acknowledge it’s overproduced, but that’s what the Wall of Sound is: overproduction, very dramatic and successful when used over untrained singers, as most of Spector’s artists were. 

Nevertheless, McCartney aside, Let It Be is an amusing, powerful and iconic Beatles’ hit album. Most agree that it is still as pleasurable to listen to today, as it was in back in 1970 when many first heard it.

In 2009, after Phil Spector’s ignominious sentence for murder, McCartney released the unproduced tapes of Let It Be, entitled to "Let It Be Naked." It was fascinating to hear, but it essentially took away from what a great job, Phil Spector had done concerning the commercial release.