R.I.P., Phil Ramone

The music world lost a giant today.  Legendary sound engineer and music producer Phil Ramone passed away this morning.  He was 72.

Ramone was born in 1941 in South Africa and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  He became a naturalized American citizen in 1953.  In 1958 he co-founded A & R Recording, a recording studio in New York.  He subsequently became known as an innovative music engineer and producer, and he went on to produce music for dozens of seminal artists from many important genres, from jazz (John Coltrane, Stan Getz) to rock and roll (Elton John, Bob Dylan) to blues (B.B. King) to R&B (Aretha Franklin) to folk rock (James Taylor, Peter Paul and Mary).  He also produced classical music, broadway musicals, large-scale concerts, music for television shows, and movie scores.

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I met Mr. Ramone in early 2011 when he dropped by a recording session at Avatar Studios in Manhattan.  He was incredibly warm and welcoming, brimming with soft-spoken humor and wonderful stories.  We took a break for a couple hours and sat in a semi-circle around him in the control room as he regaled us with stories of coming up in New York, gaining prominence in his field, working with Paul McCartney, producing for Billy Joel (coincidentally, the subject of my blog entry from yesterday), and navigating around the music industry.

So much of the music I love exists because of Phil Ramone.  I hope he’s still making music somewhere.

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