When I was who knows how old, my mind caught fire as I watched Chris Parker twist through her bedroom and into her clothes during the opening scene of Adventures in Babysitting. Now, it wasn’t Elisabeth Shue that was sending this new, strange, and wonderful sensation coursing through my body but the song she was blasting through her bedroom stereo. Jiminy Christmas!, I recall thinking. What is this? It was “Then He Kissed Me,” by the Crystals, and the vision of the violent virtuoso Phil Spector.

Here’s how another story goes: Phil Spector and a passenger are driving down Sunset Boulevard when Marvin Gaye’s new single, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” comes on the radio. Unable to contain his excitement over what he is hearing, Spector loses control of the car and nearly spirals into oncoming traffic. The incident fairly well summarizes who Spector was—a man so singularly obsessed with music that he was willing to harm anyone and anything for it. His impact on the world was meteoric: lives were destroyed in balls of fire, but flowers grew along the rim of the impact crater.

Alex Oliveira is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL