The music world is mourning one of its most celebrated behind-the-scenes figures. Music producer and engineer Phil Ramone, a 14-time Grammy winner, passed away at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Saturday, March 30 following an aortic aneurysm in February, his son Matt confirmed to the Associated Press. Ramone was 72 years old, and is survived by sons Matt, BJ and Simon, and wife Karen.
The list of superstars with whom Ramone worked during his storied career includes Burt Bacharach, Bono, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and many more. A technical innovator, Ramone is widely credited for helping popularize the use of the compact disc; he also used the fiber optics system EDNet to record tracks in "real time" from different locations to record Frank Sinatra's Duets album, and was the first to use a digital live recording for Billy Joel's Songs in the Attic album.
He was also behind some of the most popular film soundtracks of all time, producing albums for the films A Star is Born, Flashdance, Ghostbusters and Midnight Cowboy.
"Our industry has lost an immense talent and a true visionary and genius," said Neil Portnow, president of The Recording Academy, said in a statement.
His collaborators quickly remembered him on Saturday. "This is so shocking. I just performed for his tribute in December," Aretha Franklin said in a statement. "Truly one of the great names in music has gone on, but the melodies will remain."
Added Billy Joel: "I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band.... The music world lost a giant today."
"[He was] he star of stars behind the stars," Stevie Wonder said. "What a great man, what a kind spirit, such an incredible producer . . . Truly a tragic loss for us on earth but what a wonderful blessing for heaven."