Record producer Phil Ramone has died, after struggling with complications that arose following a surgery in late February. He was 79.
Over the course of his 50-year career, Ramone worked with everyone from Elton John to Aretha Franklin. He won 15 Grammys, including one lifetime achievement award, and produced and engineered a number of classic records, including Billy Joel’s The Stranger, Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years, Paul McCartney’s Ram, and Frank Sinatra’s Duets. He also engineered Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks and is credited with recording Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday To You” to President John F. Kennedy.
Ramone’s breakthrough recording came in 1964, when he engineered Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s Getz/Gilberto record, featuring the hit “The Girl From Ipanema.” It won him his first Grammy and impressed Quincy Jones, whom he worked with on a number of records throughout the ‘60s.
Ramone also enjoyed a prolific career doing music for films, producing both Arlo Guthrie’s theme to Alice’s Restaurant and Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking” for Midnight Cowboy. He also worked on the soundtracks for movies like Flashdance, Ghostbusters, and August Rush.
A founding member of the Music And Engineering Technology Alliance, Ramone was always interested in innovation within his field. In 1976, when he was hired to produce music for Barbra Streisand’s A Star Is Born, Ramone introduced Dolby four-track discrete sound to the film and used the first satellite link for remote recording. His label, A&R Recording, put out the very first album to ever be released commercially on CD, Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, in 1982. Ramone also introduced optical surround sound for movies with the music he produced for Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony.