Phil Ramone, famed producer, dies at 79
Phil Ramone, the masterful Grammy Award-winning engineer, arranger and producer whose platinum touch included recordings with Ray Charles, Billy Joel and Paul Simon, has died at 79, his family said Saturday.
Ramone, who lived in Wilton, Conn., had elective surgery Feb. 27 to prevent an aortic aneurysm, son Matt Ramone said. He later developed pneumonia and died Saturday morning at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the son said.
Few in the recording industry enjoyed a more spectacular and diverse career. Ramone won 14 competitive Grammy Awards and one for lifetime achievement. Worldwide sales for his projects topped 100 million. He was at ease with rock, jazz, swing and pop, working with Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, Elton John and Tony Bennett, Madonna and Lou Reed.
Ramone was on hand for such classic albums as The Band’s “The Band” and Bob Dylan’s “Blood On the Tracks.” He produced three records that went on to win Grammys for album of the year — Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” Joel’s “52nd Street” and Charles’ “Genius Loves Company.”
“I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band,” Joel said in a statement. “So much of my music was shaped by him and brought to fruition by him. I have lost a dear friend — and my greatest mentor.”
Ramone also was a pioneer of digital recording who produced what is regarded as the first major commercial release on compact disc, “52nd Street,” which came out on CD in 1982. He even was part of political history, advising presidential administrations on how to properly record a news conference and helping to arrange the storied 1962 party for John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden that featured Marilyn Monroe crooning “Happy Birthday.”