Legendary record producer Phil Ramone died of a brain aneurysm on Saturday, March 30th at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, according to Billboard. Ramone was first hospitalized in late February for an aortic aneurysm, in which the aorta swells to 1.5 times its normal size, and runs the risk of fatally rupturing. Ramone is survived by his wife Karen and three sons, Matt, B.J. -- named for Billy Joel, and Simon -- named for Paul Simon. Ramone's most recent project, was Tony Bennett's Latin album, Viva Duets which featured Christina Aguilera, Gloria Estefan, and Marc Anthony, among others. In 2007, Ramone published his memoir, called Making Records: The Scenes Behind The Music.
Phil Ramone was born on January 5th, 1934 in South Africa and as a child prodigy violinist at age 10, he performed for Queen Elizabeth II. He emigrated to the U.S. in the late-1940's and was classically trained at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1953. In addition to co-owning and operating Manhattan's A&R Recording Studios, Ramone became known as one of the best sets of ears in the business, with his engineering work among the best and most sought after in the U.S.
The 14 time Grammy winner's resume reads like a who's who of the entertainment industry over the past 50 years, with Ramone's name on the label of albums by such icons as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rod Stewart, and Elton John, among others. Ramone is also credited for introducing optical surround sound for motion pictures.
Despite those credits, Phil Ramone -- lovingly referred to by many as the "Pope Of Pop" -- will always be best known for the seven albums he produced for Billy Joel -- The Stranger (1977), 52nd Street (1978), Glass Houses (1980), Songs In The Attic (1981), The Nylon Curtain (1982), An Innocent Man (1983), and The Bridge (1986).
Ramone produced and helped arrange such Billy Joel classics as "Just The Way You Are," "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "She's Always A Woman," "Only The Good Die Young," "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," "Big Shot," "My Life," "Honesty," "You May Be Right," "It's Still Rock N' Roll To me," "Don't Ask Me Why," "She's Got A Way," "Pressure," "Allentown," "Goodnight Saigon," "Tell Her About It," "The Longest Time," "Uptown Girl," and "A Matter Of Trust," among others.
Billy Joel issued a statement saying: "I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented member in my band. He was the band member that no one ever ever saw onstage. He was with me as long as any of the musicians I ever played with -- longer than most. 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. The music world lost a giant today."
FRIENDS AND COLLABORATORS REMEMBER PHIL RAMONE
Paul McCartney: "Phil was a great friend of mine for many years. We first worked together when I recorded 'Another Day' in New York at A&R Studios. He was a very sweet man who combined this with expert knowledge of both engineering and production. I'll always remember him as a great friend that I knew, loved and admired over the many years that we worked and played together."
Quincy Jones: "There aren't enough words to express how heavy my heart is with the news of the passing of my dear friend and brother Phil Ramone. Phil was a collaborator in the studio and a friend in life for more than 50 years. Whenever I was in the studio recording, if Phil wasn't there by my side it would seem like one ingredient was missing. Today we lost one of the true musicians, innovators and geniuses of the record industry. His immense talents were only surpassed by the gigantic size of his heart, and I will miss him terribly."
Barbra Streisand: "I'm so saddened to learn of Phil's passing. We first worked together in 1967 when I did a free concert in Central Park. His brilliance at capturing sound was immediately evident. Later we worked together on the film A Star Is Born, where Phil was able to record me singing live, including 'Evergreen.' In the next decade we worked on the soundtrack to Yentl and many other recordings. Phil had impeccable musical taste, great ears and the most gentle way of bringing out the best in all the artists he worked with. The monumental recordings he produced will endure for all time."
Stevie Wonder: "What a heart break to all of us who knew him and loved him. What a great man, what a kind spirit, such an incredible producer. The star of stars behind the stars. Phil will be missed always."
Aretha Franklin: "This is so shocking. I just performed for his tribute in December. Truly one of the great names in music has gone on, but the melodies will remain."
Elton John: "A friend, a musical genius and the most lovable person. It was a thrill for me to have worked with Phil, and I have so many wonderful memories."
Tony Bennett: "Phil Ramone was a lovely person and a very gifted musician and producer. It was a joy to have him work with me in the recording studio on so many projects as he had a wonderful sense of humor and a deep love of music. Phil had the admiration and respect from everyone in the entertainment industry and his passing is a great loss."
Julian Lennon: "I'm deeply saddened to hear the news of my dear friend & First Ever Producer, Phil Ramone's Passing. . . My Heart, of course, goes out to all of his Family & friends. . . Phil, We were just getting to know each other again. . . I'm going to miss you. . . As will countless others. . . You were one of the best. . . Always will be. . . x"
ASCAP president and singer/songwriter Paul Williams: "Phil Ramone was a giant whose love and understanding of songwriting, combined with his mastery of the recording arts and science led to a lifetime of producing beautiful music. His legacy of timeless classics includes the seminal work of a long list of iconic songwriters and legendary recording artists. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. While the world has lost a giant his work will live on and be celebrated for all time. Godspeed, my friend."
Bette Midler: "Phil Ramone. A giant in the recording world; kind beyond words."
Songwriter Diane Warren: "Phil Ramone was the epitome of class. And what a true producer should be. Musical. Sensitive. He knew his s***. And was a gentleman. One of not only the greatest producers EVER but one of the greatest people EVER."
Robbie Robertson: "I am deeply saddened to hear my friend Phil Ramone passed away. We first met in 1968 at A&R Studios while The Band was making Music From Big Pink. I am currently doing a new mix on an album we worked on together many years ago. He was a true sonic genius and a brilliant, versatile record producer. They just don't make 'em like that no more. Blessings."
PHIL RAMONE'S GRAMMY AWARDS
1965 - Best Engineered Recording (non classical) - Getz/Gilberto - Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto
1970 - Best Musical Show Album - Promises, Promises
1976 - Album of the Year - Still Crazy After All These Years - Paul Simon
1979 - Record of the Year - "Just The Way You Are" - Billy Joel
1980 - Album of the Year - 52nd Street - Billy Joel
1981 - Producer of the Year (non classical)
1984 - Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special - Flashdance
1995 - Best Musical Show Album - Passion
2003 - Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues - Tony Bennett
2005 - Album of the Year and Best Surround Sound Album - Genius Loves Company - Ray Charles
2005 - Technical Grammy for a Lifetime of Innovative Contributions to the Recording Academy
2006 - Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - The Art of Romance - Tony Bennett
2007 - Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - Duets: An American Classic - Tony Bennett
2012 - Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - Duets II - Tony Bennett
MAJOR ALBUMS PRODUCED BY PHIL RAMONE (via Vintage Vinyl News):
Calypso In Brass - Harry Belafonte
The Art Of Romance - Tony Bennett
Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool - Tony Bennett
Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues - Tony Bennett
Duets: An American Classic - Tony Bennett
Duets II - Tony Bennett
Lovelines - The Carpenters
Genius Loves Company - Ray Charles
Genius And Friends - Ray Charles
Hot Streets - Chicago
Chicago 13 - Chicago
Stardust - Natalie Cole
Watermark - Art Garfunkel
The Stranger - Billy Joel
52nd Street - Billy Joel
Glass Houses - Billy Joel
An Innocent Man - Billy Joel
The Nylon Curtain - Billy Joel
The Bridge - Billy Joel
One Night Only: The Greatest Hits - Elton John
A Night To Remember - Cyndi Lauper
Valotte - Julian Lennon
The Secret Value Of Daydreaming - Julian Lennon
Celebrate Me Home - Kenny Loggins
Just A Little Lovin' - Shelby Lynn
Songs From The Last Century - George Michael
Duets: Friends And Legends - Anne Murray
Guitar Slinger - Brian Setzer Orchestra
Am I Not Your Girl? - Sinead O'Connor
There Goes Rhymin' Simon - Paul Simon
Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin' - Paul Simon
Still Crazy After All These Years - Paul Simon
One Trick Pony - Paul Simon
So Beautiful Or So What - Paul Simon
The Concert In Central Park - Simon & Garfunkel
Duets - Frank Sinatra
Duets II - Frank Sinatra
Phoebe Snow - Phoebe Snow
Second Childhood - Phoebe Snow
Never Letting Go - Phoebe Snow
Time Takes Time - Ringo Starr
It Had To Be You: The Great American Songbook - Rod Stewart
As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook Volume II - Rod Stewart
A Star Is Born - Barbra Streisand
Till I Loved You - Barbra Streisand
Mary - Mary Travers
Rufus Does Judy At Carnegie Hall - Rufus Wainwright