los angeler river

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Tina Turner recording “River deep, Mountain High” with Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, 1966. 

Phil Spector offered $20,000 upfront to Ike Turner in exchange for total control over the production. Spector made Tina Turner sing the song for hours on end until she got it just right. “I must have sung that 500,000 times,” she said. “I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing.” Using Spector’s “Wall of Sound” production technique, it required 21 session musicians and 21 background vocalists for the recording, including Hal Blaine, Leon Russell and Glen Campbell. George Harrison praised the record, declaring it “a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn’t improve on it.” Though it peaked at 3 on the Billboard 100 in the United Kingdom, it was a relative disappointment reaching 88 in the United States. That drove Spector mad and he went into semi-retirement. “I think when it came out, it was just like my farewell,” Spector told Rolling Stone in 1969. “I was just saying goodbye, and I wanted to go crazy for four minutes on wax.”

Photos by Ray Avery

odd jobs

After years of struggling to make it as an actress in LA, I tore a phone number off of a community board flyer. The slip said “don’t call us, we’ll call you” and as soon as it was in my hand, my cellphone started ringing. I was invited to a white warehouse on the east side of the dusty Los Angeles river, where a skinny man in a faded beret told me that I was perfect. Walking home that night, I found a membership card for the Dream Actors Guild in my purse. Now every night from 10 PM until sunrise (and sometimes in the middle of the day for particularly long naps), I slip into your dreams and I am a pale shadow monster, I am your fourth grade teacher, I am your sense of falling, I am your lover’s whisper and how it tastes like heartbreak. The pay isn’t great - but it beats waiting tables.