Los Angeles, California in 2003-
Had you seen her while out and about, it would have been nearly impossible not to notice Lana Clarkson. She was a statuesque blonde who stood at 6 foot tall, and drop dead gorgeous. But Lana was so much more than a pretty face; friends remember her as an intelligent woman with a wicked sense of humor; she had been outgoing, caring, friendly, and the life of the party wherever she went.
Though she’d been the leading lady in many B rated movies and played small roles in a handful of well known films, at 40 years of age Lana was still awaiting her big break. Due to this, the actress took on a job as a hostess at the famous House Of Blues nightclub on the Sunset Strip; her job had been to take good care of the VIP guests in a special area called The Foundation Room where LA’s biggest celebrities were known frequent. Lana had not been working here too long, but it seemed to be a great fit for her; though she officially made only $9 an hour, celebrities tended to tip pretty well, and Lana had hoped to meet the right people while there.
In the very early hours of Monday, February 3rd of 2003, less than a hour before closing time, a celebrity by the name of Phil Spector walked into the club and attempted to enter the VIP area. Phil was an exceedingly wealthy music legend in his sixties, but Lana had absolutely no clue who the heck he was so she refused him entry. If that weren’t bad enough, she accidentally misgendered Phil – Lana addressed the celebrity as “Ma’am”! Once the actress was informed as to whom she had been interacting with, she apologized profusely and, as it was her job to cater to each VIP patron’s slightest whim, that’s exactly what she did. Sadly, as Lana was about to discover, Phil was much like a grenade who’s pin had just been pulled – he was very soon to explode.
There’s no denying that the musical genius had some serious demons. When he was only 8, Phil’s daddy had committed suicide. As a teenager he was in a musical group called The Teddy Bears; Phil wrote a song called To Know Him Is To Love Him, the name of which had actually been taken from the epitaph engraved on his father’s tombstone. By the age of 21 Phil was a millionaire; not only was he an accomplished song writer and musician himself, but he invented what is known as The Wall Of Sound.
Phil had discovered a method of layering music, and this sounded better on the radio than anything which had been discovered thus far. It was a really big deal, and Phil has been called one of the most influential music producers of all time! Since all of the biggest artists wanted to work with him, the producer became very egotistical; the older he grew the more eccentric, erratic, and violent his behavior became.
He was well known for constantly packing heat, and he was absolutely not afraid to threaten someone by pointing a firearm at them – sometimes he even fired it! If this weren’t bad enough, there have been a long line of women throughout the decades who claim to have been abused in various ways by Phil; several even swear to have been held captive for several days or longer in the music mogul’s mansion! His ex has written a book about the hell on Earth she endured while under Phil’s control. Of course Lana had no way of knowing any of this, she barely knew who Phil was.
At closing time, an intoxicated Phil had needed help getting outside to his vehicle; the man was a good tipper, and the hostess was happy enough to oblige. Phil’s limousine driver, Adriano De Souza, had been waiting outside the club. Phil insisted that Lana come back to his 33 room mansion known as The Pyrenees Castle for a nightcap. Lana declined this offer multiple times, but finally relented. Adriano later recalled that Lana had been adamant that she would come inside for just a quick drink, then the chauffer would drive her back. Sometime around 3 am on Monday morning Phil and Lana entered The Castle; the chauffer remained outside, awaiting the actress’s promise of a prompt return.
Much of what occurred over the course of the next two hours is still up for debate, mostly we know what the driver has told us. At approximately 5 am Phil walked out of his home with a gun in his hands and stated, “I think I killed somebody”. The chauffer called the police, with whom Phil refused to comply. He would not show his hands; a scuffle ensued, which resulted in the suspect being tased and tackled to the ground.
A deceased Lana was found still seated in the white French provincial chair in the foyer, she’d taken a bullet from a .38-caliber Colt Cobra to the mouth and a firearm lay at the floor near her feet. It was obvious that Phil had attempted to clean up before notifying authorities; blood was found on the staircase and multiple other areas, and in a bathroom near the foyer lay a cloth diaper drenched in the lady’s blood.
The music mogul’s account of what had transpired changed multiple times. Phil reportedly told police “I didn’t mean to shoot her. It was an accident”. After he’d sobered up a bit, Phil began to sing a different tune – he claimed to be an innocent man. He had startled the actress as she’d been playing with the gun, and it had accidentally discharged.
Investigators did not believe Phil’s story, and the autopsy agreed with them. The bullet had traveled in a slightly upward trajectory which had severed Lana’s spine, and the recoil from the firearm sent several of the actress’s front teeth flying to the floor. It was not a pretty death, but thankfully Lana has died instantaneously. The actress’s tongue had been bruised, which the coroner stated had been from the gun forcibly entering her mouth – blunt force trauma. An acrylic fingernail from Lana’s right hand was missing, had likely broken off during some sort of a struggle. There were bruises on her right arm and wrist, two of which have been described as significant. The lady’s leopard print purse strap had been over her right shoulder at the time of death, which indicated that she’d soon intended to leave the premises, and the firearm had been found on the floor near Lana’s left foot though she’d definitely been right handed.
Phil was arrested for second degree murder, but released on a one million dollar bond. While awaiting trial the music producer married a 26 year old deli waitress named Rachelle Short whom he would show off daily throughout the spectacle of a trial. After trying on a string of high profile attorneys, Phil finally settled on Mafia Boss John Gotti’s lawyer, Bruce Cutler. The defense’s stance was that Lana had discovered the firearm inside the millionaire’s home and had committed suicide. The prosecution and the defense argued about both the gunshot residue and the blood spatter, with both calling experts to prove their point. The prosecution claimed that Lana had likely been grabbing for the gun while Phil was forcing it in her mouth, which would explain why there was so much GSR on her hands. Either way, a good washing can remove GSR from the skin, so Phil could not be eliminated as the killer based on that.
The prosecution called a few of the women who had been victimized by Phil, some of which swore that the defendant had pulled a gun on them through the years. One witness, a former friend of the defendant named Dianne Ogden-Halder, claimed that Phil had attempted to rape her at gun point back in the 80’s. She had been a guest at Phil’s mansion when he’d abruptly changes from friendly to “demonic”; at this point Phil pulled out a gun and threatened to “blow her brains out”. Dianne claimed that he refused to allow her to leave the home, and pressed said firearm against her forehead and cheek. Dianne claimed that she was shocked by Phil’s behavior as it had been completely unnecessary, had he been romantic with her that would’ve been fine.
Dianne’s testimony is definite worth mentioning as there had been sexual activity between Lana and Phil on the night of her death – whether it had been consensual or not we’ll never know. There was DNA (saliva) which proved that Lana had performed fellatio on Phil, and Phil’s DNA was discovered on Lana’s breast. The defense called a witness to testify that Lana had been very depressed at the time of her death, and this may have been the tipping point. In the end, a couple of the jury members did have their doubts; after 12 days of deliberation a mistrial was declared.
18 months later, on October 29th of 2008, a second trial began. This trial was not the media circus which the first had been, and Phil did not have the same caliber of a defense. This time around the wealthy music mogul was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 19 years to life. His health rapidly declined, and it’s said that he was not physically capable of speaking since 2014.
In 2016, after 10 years of marriage, Phil divorced his young wife. He stated that Rachelle was “bleeding him dry” with her excessive spending. She’d purchased very expensive jewellery, an airplane, a Ferrari and an Aston Martin. Rachelle had more than one plastic surgeries, bought her mama 2 nice houses, and at the time in which he’d filed, she was in the process of buying herself a private jet. All of this spending while Phil was supposed to live off the $300 a month that she placed on his books; the musician wanted his daughter to have control of his fortune.
It is making the rounds right now that Phil Spector passed away Saturday, January 16th of 2021, from Covid complications. The 81 year old music mogul who tortured so many women is dead.
*While researching opinions on this case, I’ve found that the belief of Phil’s innocence is blamed largely on David Mamet’s HBO movie starring Al Pacino, “Phil Spector”. This movie paints the musician in a completely innocent light, but if you do (or have) watch, keep in mind that it is not a documentary. While it’s a decent film, it’s just not completely factual.
An article about the blood spatter in this case:
* This was written a while back, I could’ve sworn that I’d posted it to the website but during a search I couldn’t find it. If this is a repeat for you, my apologies! I did want to post an update about the killer’s death anyhow. Also I did get that Patreon article posted, so if you’re a patron, check that out. Take care of yourselves!