Phil Ramone, Legendary Music Producer, Dies at 79 (Updated With Correct Age)

Phil Ramone won 14 Grammys and worked with BIlly Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand and many others

Last Updated: March 31, 2013 @ 2:11 PM


phil ramonePhil Ramone, a virtuoso producing talent who made music with the likes of Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett, has died. 

Update: Initial reports stated that the producer was 72, but public records and his family confirmed that he was born Jan. 5, 1934. He was 79.

The Associated Press spoke to Ramone’s son, Matt, who confirmed the death but did not release further details.

The Recording Academy, which awards the Grammys, issued a statement that said: "Our industry has lost an immense talent and a true visionary and genius, and The Academy has lost a very dear and close friend."

Update: Barbra Streisand said she was "saddened" to learn of Ramone's death, and recalled working on her landmark song "Evergreen" and the soundtrack to "Yentl."

"Phil had impeccable musical taste, great ears and the most gentle way of bringing out the best in all the artists he worked with," she said. "The monumental recordings he produced will endure for all time."  

Born in South Africa and educated as a violinist at the Juilliard School, Ramone won 14 Grammys over his career, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Producer of the Year and a long list of other accolades. His soundtrack credits included "Flashdance," "Ghostbusters" and "Midnight Cowboy.

"We rehearsed every night, like a live show," he once recalled about recording the classic "Evergreen" theme during the shoot of "A Star Is Born" with Barbra Streisand. "Wherever she sang (during the shoot), we recorded live."

Ramone co-founded A & R Recording, Inc. in 1958, a recording studio at 112 West 48th Street, New York — above what then was Manny's Music.

Ramone also played an active role in pioneering some of the technological advances in the music industry, including the compact disc, digital video disc, hi-definition recording and surround sound.  According to his own website, Ramone's use of audio technology were unique among his peers. The first CD ever pressed, Billy Joel's 52nd Street, was a Phil Ramone production as was the first pop DVD release, Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story.

His credits includes collaborations with a Who's Who of contemporary musicians including: Burt Bacharach, Bono, Ray Charles, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Gloria Estefan, Renee Fleming, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Quincy Jones, BB King, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Liza Minnelli, Sinead O'Connor, Luciano Pavarotti, Peter/Paul and Mary, Andre Previn, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Phoebe Snow, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Wonder.

He recorded with artists ranging from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Gladys Knight, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, Nancy Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Queen Latifah, Ruben Studdard, kd Lang, Keith Urban, Wynonna and the Dixie Chicks to Michael Buble, Dave Koz, John Legend, and Juanes.

In the 2006 album "Tony Bennett Duets, An American Classic," Ramone paired Bennett with some of the industries most honored musicians including Bono, Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, and Sting.

Here's an interview he gave about the body of his work in 2011: