This year marks the 50th anniversary of Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector, and joining us on the phone to talk about the milestone is Phil’s wife, Rachelle.
Rachelle talked with The K-EARTH 101 Morning Show about the making of this timeless album and what inspired Phil to produce it.
“He grew up in a very, very poor family and they did not celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas,” said Rachelle. “I think he was trying to relive his childhood throughout the making of this album because he really never had real Christmases and any money to celebrate.”
The album, which features Christmas standards sung by artists including The Ronettes, The Crystals and Darlene Love, is still considered one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time. The songs have stood the test of time thanks to Phil’s trademark “wall of sound” treatment and remain playlist favorites when the holidays roll around.
“Rolling Stone and everyone are still saying that this is the number one Christmas album of all time. It’s really interesting to see how things evolved because when it was first released back in 1963, it was a complete flop,” she explained.
Rachelle notes that the timing of the record’s release was unfortunately on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, which hurt the album’s reception at first.
“Phillip told me that they had spent so much time and so much money in the studio working hard. He said that they put it out and it was a flop for years. It didn’t even make the charts,” she explained.
Rachelle, who is forty years younger than her husband, admits that she still doesn’t know “the full range of things he really worked on” but continues to learn more and more about his impact on music.
The two married in 2006 before Phil was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison after being convicted of the second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2009. Rachelle tells us that she regularly speaks to Phil and is standing by his innocence.
“Even to this day, I see him as my husband, as my best friend,” said Rachelle. “Pretty much every day I get to speak with him and I still see him almost every single weekend.”
On whether she has any idea of the possibility of Phil getting out of prison, Rachelle explains that they are still waiting to hear back after filing a federal level of appeal last year. She’s “hoping maybe next year he’ll be home for the holidays” so the two can get on with their lives and possibly even start a family.
“We have [talked about starting a family] and we’ve been going back and forth on it. So I think we’re sort of getting there,” Rachelle said. “I think it would be wonderful. Not only would the child be extremely intelligent, but extremely good looking!”
Rachelle says that she and Phil will be able to spend Christmas together this year, which also happens to be Phil’s birthday.
To hear more of our conversation with Rachelle Spector, listen to the clip below.