Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Phil Ramone, Famed Record Producer of Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Dies

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Exclusive UPDATE: Billy Joel says:

“I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band. He was the guy 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.”

Earlier: Heartbreaking: my friend, the friend of so many in the music business, has died at age 79. Phil had been in a New York hospital for the last few weeks, recovering from an aortic aneurysm. It’s just tragic. Phil produced the great music by Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and Tony Bennett– all of whom had been keeping in touch with Phil’s family constantly over the last few weeks.

Phil had 14 Grammy awards– and not enough frankly. Just in the last two years he’d produced Tony Bennett’s “Duets II” and “Viva Duets,” as well as Paul Simon’s critically acclaimed “So Beautiful, So What” and was finishing up a new album with George Michael.

To say Phil was a musical genius, a gentleman, the sweetest and nicest guy–it’s all not enough. For years he’s been producing the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame show and it’s been such a great experience. This past winter, right before he became ill, Phil was honored by the Salvation Army for all of work in the last few years. He was so proud of organizing their kids’ orchestra. He was beaming when they played at the Marriott Marquis that night. And he was so thrilled that Aretha Franklin came to honor him as well.

All I can think of this afternoon is Phil in the studio recording the “Duets II” album in the summer of 2011. I came into see him, and it he was drenched in sweat. It was at least 100 degrees outside, and Aretha had asked that the air conditioning be turned off while she and Tony Bennett recorded “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.” Phil was wearing a light blue dress shirt, and all of it was wet by degrees. I said, “Phil are you all right?” He looked at me with that big smile. “Do ya see what’s going on in there?” he pointed to Aretha and Tony on other side of the glass. “I’m great. Hot. But great.”

Phil’s Grammys:

  • 2006 Producer, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Tony Bennett Duets: An American Classic
  • 2005 Producer, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Tony Bennett The Art of Romance
  • 2004 Producer, Album of the Year, Ray Charles Genius Loves Company
  • 2004 Producer, Best Surround Sound Album, Ray Charles Genius Loves Company
  • 2004 Technical Grammy, for contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.
  • 2002 Producer – Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues
  • 1994 Producer – Best Musical Show Album, Passion
  • 1983 Composer – Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television Flashdance
  • 1980 Producer of the Year – Non-Classical
  • 1979 Producer, Album of the Year, 52nd Street
  • 1978 Producer, Record of the Year, Just The Way You Are
  • 1975 Producer, Album of the Year, Still Crazy After All These Years
  • 1969 Producer, Best Musical Show Album, Promises, Promises
  • 1964 Engineer, Best Engineered Recording (non- classical) Getz/Gilberto
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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