Phil Ramone, a versatile music producer who won 14 Grammy Awards and worked with a glittering roster of stars like Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Paul Simon, died in Manhattan, New York, on Saturday, the New York Times reported. He was 79.
Ramone’s son, Matthew, confirmed the death to the newspaper, but did not release a cause of death.
Born in South Africa, Ramone was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where in the late 1950s he co-founded an independent studio called A&R Recording.
His first Grammy Award was for his sound engineering on the 1964 jazz-bossa nova album Getz/Gilberto by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto.
He went on to win 14 Grammys, including album of the year honors for producing Paul Simon’s top-selling 1975 release Still Crazy After All These Years and Ray Charles’ 2004 duets album Genius Loves Company.
Tony Bennett, whose series of “duets” albums were produced by Ramone, said in a statement that Ramone was a “very gifted musician and producer.”
“It was a joy to have him work with me in the recording studio on so many projects, as he had a wonderful sense of humor and a deep love of music,” Bennett said.
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president and chief executive Neil Portnow said in a statement that Ramone made “countless significant contributions” to the music industry.
“Our industry has lost an immense talent and a true visionary and genius, and the academy has lost a very dear and close friend,” he said. “Everyone who encountered Phil came away a better person for it, professionally or personally.”
Ramone was an early advocate of the compact disc. He played a key role in the introduction of the CD when the 1978 Billy Joel album 52nd Street, which Ramone had produced, was re-released in 1982 as the first commercially available album on CD.
He showed a passion for all forms of entertainment, applying his talents to projects in film, theater and television. He worked as a music supervisor on the popular 1983 film Flashdance and the 1985 dance movie White Nights.
The Times reported that, although some media sources had said Ramone was 72, public records and his family confirmed that Ramone was 79.