Many famous people employ a bodyguard to protect them from the public. But in the case of legendary “Wall of Sound” music producer Phil Spector, the bodyguard was usually there to protect the public from Phil.
Spector was licensed to carry a handgun, and often had one on hand. During the mid-70s, while recording John Lennon’s album Rock ‘n’ Roll in an LA studio, there was a significant degree of substance abuse amid a party atmosphere, and at one point Spector brandished a gun and fired a shot while Lennon was recording.
In the late-70s, while overseeing the recording of The Ramones’ album End of the Century, bassist/songwriter Dee Dee Ramone was exhausted after doing multiple takes of a song, and said he wanted to call it a night, whereupon Spector pulled a gun on him and allegedly said, “You’re not going anywhere until we get this right.”
From beginning to end, Spector’s life was both awe-inspiring and controversial, a bizarre mix of genius and weirdness. According to guitarist Stevie Van Zandt of Springsteen’s E Street Band, Spector was a “genius irredeemably conflicted. He was the ultimate example of the art always being better than the artist. He made some of the greatest records in history based on the salvation of love, meanwhile remaining incapable of giving or receiving love his whole life.”
Spector was born in the Bronx on 26 December 1939 to Ukrainian immigrant parents. His chart is something of an enigma, offering little of what we’d expect for someone whose career was so instrumental in shaping the very sound of pop music for an entire generation, and influenced a host of subsequent musicians and producers. His horoscope has no Mahapurusha yogas, no Raja yogas, no Dhana yogas. His entire life seems to pivot on just two yogas wherein a powerful Jupiter common to both is the engine of his success in the 11th house.
In April 1949, when Spector was only nine, his father committed suicide. At the time, Spector was running Jupiter dasha, Saturn bhukti. Saturn is his 9th lord gone to the 12th where it’s in mixed condition – retrograde but debilitated – and destabilized by association with Ketu. As we’ll subsequently see, this association of two prime malefics recurs in a number of life events.
After his father’s death, his mother moved the family to Los Angeles, where Spector learned to play guitar and over the years formed several loose collaborations with dozens of other musicians who went on to have successful careers. One of these early groups, the Teddy Bears, recorded a song written by Spector – To Know Him is to Love Him – which went to #1 on the Billboard charts in December 1958 and eventually sold over a million copies. Spector’s career as a songwriter was launched.
At this juncture, he was running Jupiter dasha, Mars bhukti. As noted earlier, Jupiter is the linchpin in his only two significant yogas – a Kesari yoga with the Moon, and a Viparita Raja yoga with Mars, the latter of which is the signature yoga of his chart and indeed his life. If the Viparita yoga isn’t immediately recognizable, that’s because it can be formed in either of two ways.
The rule with which many are familiar says that Viparita yoga is formed when a lord of a trikasthana (6th, 8th, 12th) goes to another trikasthana not its own, and so long as it has some traditional measure of strength (exaltation, retrogression, full moon, even swa nakshatra), it will perform the mathematical equivalent of multiplying a negative by a negative to produce a positive. However, such a planet cannot be associated with or aspected by any non-trik lord, else its contrarian indications will cause collateral damage.
The less obvious way that Viparita yoga is created is when two trik lords form sambandha via association or mutual aspect in any house(s), so long as at least one of the planets has some sort of strength to give the yoga juice, and again, under the proviso that neither of that linked pair are associated with or aspected by any non-trik lord. Such is the case for Spector.
See his horoscope, where Jupiter lord of the 8th is associated with Mars lord of the 12th in the 11th house. The first critical confirmation of this yoga’s viability is that Jupiter is swa rashi in Pisces, and therefore has the strength to animate this yoga. The second critical confirmation is to see that the Mars/Jupiter pair is neither associated with any other planet, nor aspected by any. Thus, the association of these two “negatives” creates a positive effect of reversal, success, turnaround, etc.
After first establishing himself as a songwriter, Spector subsequently went on to redefine the role of the recording studio as an instrument, utilizing his “wall of sound” approach, wherein he used multiple mics and instrumentation to create what he called “a symphony for the kids.” He was the driving force behind The Ronettes, he helped Ike & Tine Turner become stars, and over the years he was the producer for acts as diverse as The Righteous Brothers, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen and The Ramones.
Remarkably, this successful era fell within the dasha of Saturn, which is retrograde and debilitated in the 12th house! This alone provides one of the great conundrums of his horoscope, and can only be explained by considering a KP (Krishnamurthi Paddhati) concept, which says that period lords will first and foremost give the results of their nakshatra dispositors.
In Saturn’s case, its nakshatra lord is Ketu. Although this risks circular logic, let’s see where it goes. The nodes themselves act as proxies for (1) planets with which they associate, (2) which aspect them, and (3) which disposit them. In the case of Ketu, it is associated with Saturn, aspected by none, and disposited by Mars. Saturn is the lord of the 9th and 10th in the 12th, signifying among other things, good fortune and career, but also loss. Meanwhile, Mars is lord of 7th and 12th in the 11th, principally evoking sexual relationships, but also through its participation in that stellar Viparita yoga, significant success and income.
Spector’s sexual relationships were a murky affair. His second marriage was to Ronnie Bennett, lead singer of the girl group, The Ronettes, who alleged in her 1990 memoir that Spector had imprisoned her in his California mansion and subjected her to years of psychological torment. They adopted first one son and then a pair of boy twins. Those latter sons subsequently claimed that their father kept them captive as children, and they were forced to perform sex acts with his girlfriend of the day. As a prurient side note, be reminded that Saturn with either node in the 12th house is sometimes a signature for kinky sexual behavior.
In March 1974 Spector was badly injured when he was thrown through the windshield of his car in a crash, suffering serious head injuries that required several hours of surgery, with over 300 stitches to his face and more than 400 to the back of his head. Ever since then, he was prone to wearing wigs – some of them quite outlandish – to conceal his multiple scars. He was running Saturn-Mars at the time, with Mars and Ketu transiting his lagna, all indications of hospitalization.
After that, Spector became increasingly reclusive on a social level, and although he continued to do intermittent studio work throughout the whole of his Mercury dasha, it was definitely a lackluster period. Personality conflicts and mental aberrations took their toll on both his personal and professional life.
As mentioned earlier, the Saturn/Ketu pair in Spector’s 12th house was problematic for many things that Saturn touched upon – 9th lord father, 10th lord career and social notoriety, 12th house addictions and sex life. In case we might wonder whether Saturn is at all redeemable, we must of course see whether it is subject to Neechabhanga, a set of astrological circumstances that will not cancel but possibly modify the negativity suggested by its condition.
But the standard tests for Neechabhanga largely fail to rescue Saturn. First, it is not kendra to either lagna or Moon. Its dispositor Mars is kendra to the Moon but not to the lagna, and does not aspect Saturn. The planet that would be exalted in Aries, the Sun, is likewise kendra to the Moon but not to the lagna, and does not aspect Saturn either. The planet that rules Saturn’s exaltation sign Libra, Venus, is not kendra to either lagna or Moon, and doesn’t aspect Saturn either. Finally, Mars and Venus – respectively, Saturn’s dispositor and exaltation lord – are not in mutual kendras to each other. Bottom line, this acid test for Neechabhanga fails, scoring only two points out of a possible 12. Thus, Saturn remains an irredeemably-debilitated malefic under affliction in a bad place.
This land-mine of an astrological configuration – Saturn/Ketu in the 12th – was finally and fatally triggered in 2003 when Spector was running Ketu-Saturn. On February 3rd of that year, Spector shot actress Lana Clarkson in the mouth while in his Alhambra, California mansion. Her body was found slumped in a chair with a single gunshot wound to her mouth. Spector subsequently said in an Esquire interview that Clarkson’s death was an “accidental suicide” and that she had “kissed the gun.”
State prosecutors didn’t buy this story, and in 2007 Spector was tried for first degree murder. The trial ended in a hung jury and he was set free. A year later, prosecutors took him to trial again, this time for second degree murder, for which he was convicted and sentenced to 19 years in prison, thus fulfilling the legal jeopardy and incarceration themes anticipated of the Saturn/Ketu pair in the 12th house.
In a 2005 court deposition, Spector had testified that he’d been treated for bipolar disorder for eight years, ie, dating from the onset of his Ketu dasha in 1997. He admitted to suffering sleeplessness, depression, and mood swings, and said, “I’ve been called a genius but I think the genius isn’t there all the time, and suffers borderline insanity.” Note that the manas, or subconscious mind, is ruled by the 4th house and the Moon. Spector’s 4th lord Sun is in the 8th. His Moon is in Ardra, a nakshatra of oddball Rahu, meanwhile aspected by three malefics – Sun, Mars and Saturn – a major destabilizing condition without relief from any benefic.
Spector died in prison at age 81 in January 2021 of complications arising from Covid-19. At the time, he was running Venus-Mercury. As per KP principles, Venus gives results for its nakshatra dispositor the Sun, 4th lord in the 8th house, while Mercury is a double maraka, being both lord of the 2nd and occupant of the 7th house.
Alan Annand studied with Hart deFouw. He’s a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies.
He’s also the author of several books. Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference text on a unique pattern in jyotisha that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1-3 offer a wealth of time-tested techniques via biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotisha.
Aside from his Montreal-based crime novels, his New Age Noir crime series (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com