NEW YORK — Phil Ramone, the masterful Grammy-Award-winning engineer, arranger and producer whose platinum touch included recordings with Ray Charles, Billy Joel and Paul Simon, has died at 72, his family said Saturday.
Ramone’s son, Matt Ramone, confirmed the death. The family did not release details of the death, but Matt Ramone said his father was “very loving and will be missed.”
Few in the recording industry enjoyed a more spectacular and diverse career. Ramone won 14 competitive Grammy Awards and one for lifetime achievement. Worldwide sales for his projects topped 100 million. He was at ease with rock, jazz, swing and pop, working with Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, Madonna and Lou Reed.
One of the biggest names not to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ramone was on hand for such classic albums as The Band’s “The Band” and Bob Dylan’s “Blood On the Tracks.” He produced three records that went on to win Grammys for album of the year, Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” Joel’s “52nd Street” and Charles’ “Genius Loves Company.”
“I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band,” Joel said in a statement. “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.”
Fascinated by the mechanics of the studio, Ramone was a pioneer of digital recording who produced what is regarded as the first major commercial release on compact disc, “52nd Street,” in 1982.
He was even part of political history, helping to record the storied 1962 party for President John Kennedy at Madison Square Garden that featured Marilyn Monroe’s gushing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”