I can’t allow a Music Monday to pass without honoring the legendary music producer Phil Ramone, who died Saturday at New York Presbyterian Hospital after suffering an aortic aneurysm. He was 79 years old. As anyone in the industry will tell you, Phil Ramone left a tremendous legacy in pop music recordings. A prolific visionary, Ramone went from child prodigy to Julliard student to Brill Building songwriter to groundbreaking producer. He had a monumental music career in every way, and his list of credits and accomplishments is simply astonishing.
Phil Ramone’s philosophy about music producing was to allow the artist’s voice/sound to always remain the primary focus. He felt that the producer’s role was to draw out and capture the authentic artist while keeping intrusions to a minimum. Ramone’s approach was in stark contrast to, say, the Phil Spector style in which the producer’s imprint is prominent throughout the record. Phil Ramone’s musical instincts were impeccable. His belief in pure, unadulterated sound, freshness, and artistic integrity were admirable. And the trust and respect with which he treated musicians made him a beloved figure in the industry, both personally and professionally. My sister-in-law Gayle was a close acquaintance of Phil Ramone. At our family Easter dinner she attested, like everyone who knew him, that Phil Ramone was indeed a very warm, kind, self-effacing gentleman.
One of the finest examples of Phil Ramone’s genius can be heard in this track. The song is Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” for which Phil Ramone earned one of his many Grammy Awards as a producer. This was the well-deserved Record of the Year in 1979. Phil Ramone, RIP. You will be sorely missed. Thanks for the music.
“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. 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.” — Quincy Jones