Phil Ramone

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Phil Ramone
Phil Ramone
Phil Ramone at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 18, 2009
Background information
Birth namePhilip Rabinowitz
Born(1934-01-05)January 5, 1934[1]
South Africa
OriginBrooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 30, 2013(2013-03-30) (aged 79)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Record producer, recording engineer, music executive, composer, songwriter, performer
Years active1958–2013
LabelsA & R Recording, Columbia, Warner Bros., Verve, Hear Music, Casablanca (Last version, archived at the Internet Archive.)

Philip Ramone (né Rabinowitz, January 5, 1934[1] – March 30, 2013) was a South African-born American recording engineer, record producer, violinist and composer,[2] who in 1958 co-founded A & R Recording, Inc., a recording studio with business partner Jack Arnold at 112 West 48th Street, New York, upstairs from the famous musicians' watering hole, Jim & Andy's, and several doors east of Manny's Music. The success of the original A & R Recording allowed it to expand into several studios and a record production company. He was described by Billboard as "legendary",[3] and the BBC as a "CD pioneer".[4]

Early life[edit]

Ramone was born in South Africa and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, USA. As a child in South Africa, Ramone was a musical prodigy, beginning to play the violin at age three[citation needed] and performing for Princess Elizabeth at age ten. In the late 1940s, he trained as a classical violinist at the Juilliard School, where one of his classmates was Phil Woods. Ramone opened his own recording studio before he was 20.[5] He became a naturalized citizen of the United States on December 14, 1953.[6]

Professional career[edit]

A & R Recording[edit]

In 1959, Ramone established an independent recording studio A & R Recording with Chief Engineer Bill Schwartau, and the studio consisted of Brooks Arthur owning half while Ramone, Donald Frey and Arthur Downs Ward (1922–2002) owned the other fifty percent.[7]

In the studio he quickly gained a reputation as a good sound engineer and music producer, in particular for his use of innovative technology. Among the performers whose music Ramone produced are Burt Bacharach, the Band, Bono, Laura Branigan, Ray Charles, Karen Carpenter, Chicago, Peter Cincotti, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Sheena Easton, Melissa Errico, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, the Guess Who, Heatwave, Billie Hughes, Billy Joel, Debbie Gibson, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Patricia Kaas, B.B. King, Lazarus, Julian Lennon, Shelby Lynne, Madonna, Barry Manilow, Richard Marx, Paul McCartney, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, Liza Minnelli, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Sinéad O'Connor, Fito Páez, Luciano Pavarotti (including the Pavarotti and Friends Charity Concerts in Modena, Italy), Peter, Paul and Mary, June Pointer, André Previn, Jennifer Rush, Diane Schuur, Jon Secada, Michael Sembello, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Phoebe Snow, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Frankie Valli, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Nikki Yanofsky. He is also credited with having recorded Marilyn Monroe's intoxicating version of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy.[2][8]

In 1972, management of A & R included Robert Gerics (general manager and studio manager), Nick Diminno (studio manager), and Irving Joel (chief engineer). The studios were located at 799 7th Avenue and 322 West 48th Street.[9]

His early work in producing and engineering was with jazz artists, working on John Coltrane records and acting as engineer for the Getz/Gilberto album in 1963, for which he won his first Grammy. He transitioned during the 1960s to working with folk-rock, pop-rock, and R&B acts such as Peter, Paul and Mary, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, first primarily as an engineer, and later as a producer. He won his first production Grammy for his work on 1975's Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon. He produced Billy Joel's 1977 album The Stranger and began a fruitful collaboration with Joel producing a string of hit albums throughout the rest of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993, he produced Duets, Frank Sinatra's comeback album, a commercial hit that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Album Chart. During the rest of the 1990s, Ramone moved from production work to his primary role as an industry executive, serving as chairman of The Recording Academy, though he would still be involved in some studio work including several Broadway cast recordings, as well as helping produce, with Quincy Jones, the televised A Tribute to Brian Wilson in 2001.[10]

Technical innovations[edit]

Ramone was a founding member of META (the Music & Engineering Technology Alliance).[11]

October 1, 2022, marked the fortieth anniversary of the world's first commercially marketed compact disc. On that date in 1982, A & R Recording released a digital compact disc version of Billy Joel's 52nd Street in Japan, alongside Sony's CD player CDP-101.[12]

Ramone introduced optical surround sound for movies.[13] His book, Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music, written with Chuck Granata, was released on October 9, 2007. Also in October 2007, Ramone produced a limited engagement performance of Richard Vetere's Be My Love: The Mario Lanza Story.[14] The play was directed by Charles Messina and co-produced by Sonny Grosso. It premiered at The Tilles Center in Greenvale, New York.[15]

Other professional activities[edit]

In addition to producing music, Ramone had numerous concert, film, Broadway and television productions to his credit that include A Star is Born, Walkabout, August Rush, Beyond the Sea, Flashdance, Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, Midnight Cowboy, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Passion, Seussical, Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert In Central Park, Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards, The Score, VH1/BBC Party at the Palace: Queen’s Jubilee Concert and The Good Thief.[2] A champion of music educational programs, Ramone served on the boards of the National Mentoring Partnership and Berklee College of Music.[2]

Later work[edit]

On July 8, 2008, Columbia Records released The Stranger 30th Anniversary, which features interviews with Ramone. This box set includes a remastered version of the 1977 Billy Joel album, The Stranger by Ramone.[16] The following summer, Ramone produced Gershwin Across America, a tribute album to the music of George and Ira Gershwin. The album features Jewel, Jason Mraz, Darius Rucker, and Paul Simon among others.[17] In 2011, Ramone worked with George Michael, during his 2011 Symphonica Tour.[2] Also in 2011, Ramone produced the songs "You Were Meant for Me" and "I'm Coming Back" on Lalah Hathaway's album Where It All Begins. One of Ramone's final projects was as the producer of the rock band Chicago's 2011 holiday album, Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three.

Personal life[edit]

Ramone was married to Karen Ichiuji-Ramone, with whom he had one son.[13] Ramone had two sons from a prior marriage.


Ramone was hospitalized in late February 2013 with an aortic aneurysm,[11][18][19] and died on March 30, 2013, from complications involving the surgery related to it, at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. He was aged 79.[5]



Ramone was nominated for 34 Grammy awards, winning 14 including a Technical Grammy Award in 2005 for a lifetime of innovative contributions to the recording industry.[20][21]

Other awards
Honorary degrees and collegiate appointments

Ramone was awarded honorary degrees by:

Ramone was a member of Berklee's Board of Trustees.


  1. ^ a b Gallo, Phil. "Producer Phil Ramone dead at 79". Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Biography: Phil Ramone". Archived from the original on 18 March 2013.
  3. ^ Barnes, Mike (March 30, 2013). "Legendary Producer Phil Ramone Dies at Age 79". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "US music producer and CD pioneer Phil Ramone dies". BBC News. March 30, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Phil Ramone, pioneering music producer and engineer, dies aged 72". March 30, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  6. ^ US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Petition No. 625266, Admission No. 7198731
  7. ^ Eskow, Gary (June 1, 2005). "Classic Tracks: Janis Ian's "At Seventeen"". Mix. Archived from the original on May 5, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  8. ^ Davies, Bren (15 November 2005). "Interviews—Phil Ramone". Tape Op Magazine (50). Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  9. ^ "1972 International Directory of Recording Studios", Billboard, June 10, 1972, pg. RS 38
  10. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Phil Ramone". Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Legendary Producer Phil Ramone Dies at Age 79". Billboard. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  12. ^ "Sony History: A Great Invention 100 Years On". Sony. Archived from the original on August 2, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  13. ^ a b Barker, Andrew (March 30, 2013). "Phil Ramone, Pioneering Music Engineer and Producer, Dies at 72". Variety. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  14. ^ "Phil Ramone Project". Frost School of Music. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  15. ^ "Richard Vetere Collection". Stony Brook University Special Collections & University Archives. Archived from the original on June 3, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  16. ^ "Billy Joel The Stranger: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Review". BBC Music. July 14, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  17. ^ Mergner, Lee (August 25, 2010). "All-star lineup performs Gershwin across America at Hollywood Bowl". Jazz Times. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  18. ^ Martinez, Michael (March 30, 2013). "Music producer and innovator Phil Ramone dead at age 72". CNN. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  19. ^ "Legendary record producer Phil Ramone in 'critical care'". NME. March 1, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  20. ^ "Past winners search". Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  21. ^ "Technical GRAMMY award". 2010-10-19. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  22. ^ "AES Historical Web Store: Oral History Project: Phil Ramone (101)". Audio Engineering Society. Retrieved March 30, 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]