Lana Clarkson was a B-movie actress whose death, tragic and bizarre in equal measure, brought her the fame she deserved but failed to win in life. The stunningly attractive blonde was born at Long Beach, California on April 5, 1962. She did not excel academically but after attending college pursued a career as an actress and fashion model. If she can be said to have had a speciality it was making fantasy films, the best known of which were probably the 1983 Roger Corman flick Deathstalker and the 1985 Barbarian Queen. As she turned thirty, her star waned, and in February 2003 she was working as a hostess when she accepted an invitation from Phil Spector to visit his Alhambra mansion.
Spector, whose numerous songs can be found scattered across this website, had a well deserved reputation for eccentricity which extended to a fascination with firearms, and in the early hours of February 3, one of his guns ended the life of Lana Clarkson with a single shot to her mouth. Spector was tried twice for her murder; the jury were unable to reach a verdict in the first trial, but in the retrial, which concluded only in April 2009, he was convicted of second degree murder.
The defense made much of the fact that no incriminating DNA was found on the gun, arguing that Lana had committed suicide in a fit of depression over her flagging career, but the jury found similar fact evidence relating to other incidents in which Spector menaced women with firearms more compelling than the forensics, which were not as persuasive as they sounded.
One person who poured cold water on the suicide claims was composer Jann Castor; at the time of her death, Lana was working with him on a one-woman show about Marilyn Monroe. As their relationship was strictly professional, he was unlikely to have been blinded by emotional bias. Castor said too that Spector has famously once pulled a gun on John Lennon, who had been dead for over two decades by this time. Clearly, although Lana had been unlucky, others had been very lucky indeed. The reason Lana agreed to accompany Spector is also clear; it is a simple thing called networking. She had quite likely been hoping to interest him in her new production, or if not him, then somebody he knew. Being both an attractive woman and considerably younger than him it must have occurred to her that he might have had other ideas on his mind, but she couldn't have imagined the night would end like this.
"Lana" was written by West Country songwriter Rea Pearson - echoes - of Seth Lakeman's "Kitty Jay" perhaps? Whatever, the English girl could pass for Sandi Saraya or even Pat Benatar, and this song, brimming over with imagery, metaphor and references which will elude the casual listener, is a more than fitting tribute to a woman who will be remembered more for her manner of death than for her life, even though as Pearson says, nobody had a bad word to say about her. Among other things, Lana had worked as a volunteer with AIDS sufferers at a time when there was still a massive stigma attached to this terrible disease.
In an interview with this website, Rea Pearson she said she wrote the song after she'd read about Lana's death, and it struck a chord, "a girl who was passionate about pursuing a career in entertainment (like me at the time), whose life was tragically cut short. The more I read about her on the internet, the more she just seemed like a really lovely woman."
As with all her compositions, she wrote the lyrics first: "The way Lana went to Spector's 'castle' just made me think of Cinderella, only instead of returning at midnight, Lana never made it back home". Cinderella was a fairy tale character, and "Fairy tales should never end this way." Superman also makes an appearance in the song on the back of his alter ego Clark Kent and his first girlfriend Lana Lang.
Rea recorded the song with her band The Climb in November 2003, "but I really wasn't happy with it. Then my dad died in February 2004, and for a while, I just didn't have any enthusiasm for music - there was far too much going on in my life. I think losing someone so close to me, really made me appreciate JUST how awful it must have been for the Clarkson family, so eventually I booked two days in the local studio, and we went in and re-recorded it, along with three other tracks."
Tribute songs are two a penny, but this one is something special, right down to the heavy metal guitar sound, far more fitting than an acoustic ballad for a woman who looked every inch the Amazon she played on screen. Sadly the paying public didn't think so, but the song clocked up well over eight thousand views in its first year on the YouTube website where it was posted with a slidescreen video which is every bit as fitting a tribute.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above