In the 1960s, record producer Phil Spector was an icon, working with just about every famous band of the time. Unlike producers of the past, Spector was seen as an auteur, bringing a unique approach, dubbed the “Wall of Sound” to dozens of records that ended up being hits. By doubling or even tripling the sounds of the instruments and applying a thick wash of echo, Spector invented a loud, rich sound that had previously gone unseen in the music world.
The Wall of Sound spawned many imitators, and some musicians still use the technique today, many years after Spector’s shocking fall from grace. On February 3, 2003, Spector met a nightclub hostess named Lana Clarkson, according to The New York Times. He invited her back to his home, but the night ended with Clarkson dead in Spector’s foyer. According to testimony by Spector’s chauffeur, who was waiting nearby, he heard a pop and then saw Spector emerge with a revolver in his hand, uttering the words that would ultimately guarantee his prison sentence: “I think I killed somebody.”
During a drawn-out legal process with Spector looking increasingly disheveled, his first trial, ending in 2007, resulted in a hung jury, but a second trial that ended in 2009 resulted in Spector’s conviction and imprisonment. In early 2021, after more than a decade of incarceration, Spector died on January 16th due to complications resulting from the COVID-19 virus.
Celebrity publicist Max Clifford might not be a household name in America, but he was more well-known in his native Britain, where he worked as a celebrity publicist for decades for folks like Simon Cowell. However, he was also notorious for representing a variety of figures peddling so-called “kiss-and-tell” stories. That is, they were claiming that they had secret relationships with other famous people (some were true, some were probably not) and wanted to sell their secrets to England’s extensive tabloid industry, according to The Guardian.
Clifford acted as a publicist for basically anyone he thought would make him money, no matter how unsavory they might seem to the general public, and by all reports, he was pretty good at it, making household names (even if briefly) out of dozens of people desperate for 15 minutes of fame.
But outside of the public arena, Clifford had a history of accusations of sexual abuse. Numerous women, some who were underaged at the time of the incidents, began coming forward in the 2010s to accuse Clifford of various offenses. While Clifford denied these stories, in 2014, he was convicted of indecent assault and sentenced to eight years in prison. He didn’t make it that long, though. In 2017, while cleaning his cell, Clifford collapsed from a heart attack and died shortly thereafter.
It wasn’t even fancy, built 100% on fraud without a single investment made, and it’s a wonder he got away with it for as long as he did, but people simply assumed he was on the level because of his prominence. It took his sons ratting him out to the government to finally get him caught. Madoff was convicted and sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 after pleading guilty to multiple types of fraud.
A century and a half is a long time and Madoff was already at an advanced age when he was sentenced, so his death in prison wasn’t a surprise to anyone. In all, he made it just over a decade in jail. In April 2021, Madoff died of natural causes at the age of 82 while still serving his sentence.
However, even before joining the NFL, Phillips had encountered a spate of legal troubles, the worst of which involved him breaking into a teammate’s apartment to violently assault a woman who was Phillips’ ex-girlfriend, according to Bleacher Report. Amazingly, Nebraska didn’t kick him off the team, deciding to suspend him temporarily instead. He was reinstated later in the season and the Rams hired him in spite of his arrest. His legal issues didn’t end there, though, and the Rams cut Phillips during the ’97 season.
Phillips attempted a comeback with the 49ers in 1999 but didn’t last long due to performance issues. After playing with smaller leagues for a few years, Phillips was arrested after hitting three teenagers with his car during a dispute, according to the New York Times. While in prison for that, he was also charged with even more domestic violence charges, which led to him serving a 31-year sentence. He then made things far worse by murdering his cellmate, Damion Soward. While awaiting trial for this crime, Phillips was found unresponsive in his cell and declared dead. Investigators later determined the death to be a suicide.