Phil Ramone

Last updated
Phil Ramone
Phil ramone.jpg
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
Origin Brooklyn, 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
Instruments Violin
Years active1958–2013
Labels A & R Recording, Columbia, Warner Bros., Verve, Hear Music, Casablanca
Associated acts Billy Joel
Website (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

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

A & R Recording

In 1959, Ramone established an independent recording studio A & R Recording with Chief Engineer Bill Schwartau, father of internet security expert, Winn 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, 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 landmark Getz/Gilberto album in 1964, 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 #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

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

October 1, 2020, marked the thirty-eighth 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

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

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 .

Personal life

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] He died of complications from surgery related to the aortic aneurysm [5] on March 30, 2013, at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan at the age of 79.



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.

Related Research Articles

Billy Joel American singer-songwriter, composer and pianist

William Martin Joel is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and composer. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man" after his first major hit and signature song of the same name as well as the similarly named 1973 album, he has led a commercially successful career as a solo artist since the 1970s, having released 12 studio albums from 1971 to 1993 as well as one studio album in 2001. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, as well as the seventh-best-selling recording artist and the fourth-best-selling solo artist in the United States, with over 150 million records sold worldwide. His 1985 compilation album, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2, is one of the best-selling albums in the United States.

<i>The Nylon Curtain</i> 1982 studio album by Billy Joel

The Nylon Curtain is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on June 28, 1982, and produced by Phil Ramone.

Arif Mardin

Arif Mardin was a Turkish-American music producer, who worked with hundreds of artists across many different styles of music, including jazz, rock, soul, disco and country. He worked at Atlantic Records for over 30 years, as producer, arranger, studio manager, and vice president, before moving to EMI and serving as vice president and general manager of Manhattan Records. His collaborations include working with the Rascals, Queen, the Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Laura Nyro, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins, Daniel Rodriguez, and Norah Jones. Mardin was awarded eleven Grammy Awards.

<i>Glass Houses</i> (album) 1980 studio album by Billy Joel

Glass Houses is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on March 12, 1980. It features Joel's first song to peak at No. 1 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart, "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me". The album itself topped the Pop Albums chart for six weeks and was ranked No. 4 on Billboard's 1980 year-end album chart. The album is the 41st best selling album of the 1980s, with sales of 7.1 million copies in the U.S. alone. In 1981, Joel won a Grammy Award for "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" for his work on Glass Houses. According to music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the album featured "a harder-edged sound" compared to Joel's other work, in response to the punk and new wave movements. This was also the final studio album to feature the original incarnation of the Billy Joel Band, augmented by new lead guitarist David Brown. Muti-instrumentalist Cannata left the band just before the sessions began for Joel's next studio album, 1982's The Nylon Curtain.

<i>The Bridge</i> (Billy Joel album) 1986 album by Billy Joel

The Bridge is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on July 9, 1986. It was the last studio album produced by Phil Ramone as well as the last to feature Joel's long-time bassist Doug Stegmeyer and rhythm guitarist Russell Javors. The album yielded several successful singles, including "A Matter of Trust", "Modern Woman", and "This Is the Time".

<i>An Innocent Man</i> 1983 studio album by Billy Joel

An Innocent Man is the ninth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on August 8, 1983. The concept album is a tribute to the American popular music of Joel's adolescent years with Joel paying homage to a number of different and popular American musical styles from the late 1950s and early 1960s, most notably doo-wop and soul music. The album cover artwork was taken on the front steps of 142 Mercer Street, just north of the intersection of Mercer and Prince Street in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.

<i>The Stranger</i> (album) 1977 studio album by Billy Joel

The Stranger is the fifth studio album by American singer Billy Joel, released in September 1977 by Columbia Records. It was the first of Joel's albums to be produced by Phil Ramone, with whom he would go on to work for all of his albums up until his 1986 album The Bridge.

<i>52nd Street</i> (album) 1978 studio album by Billy Joel

52nd Street is the sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Billy Joel, released on October 11, 1978. The follow-up to his breakthrough success album, The Stranger, Joel tried to give the album a fresh sound, hiring various jazz musicians to differentiate it from his previous albums.

Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel song) 1977 single by Billy Joel

"Just the Way You Are" is a song by Billy Joel from his fifth studio album The Stranger (1977). It was released in September 1977 as the album's lead single. It became both Joel's first US Top 10 and UK Top 20 single, as well as Joel's first gold single in the US. The song also topped the Billboard Easy Listening Chart for the entire month of January 1978.

David Rosenthal (musician)

David Rosenthal is an American keyboardist, musical director, music producer, synthesizer programmer, orchestrator, and songwriter, mostly known for working with the world-renowned hard rock band Rainbow and rock legend Billy Joel. Rosenthal has been nominated for three Grammy Awards, and in addition to Rainbow and Joel, has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Enrique Iglesias, Robert Palmer, Steve Vai, Cyndi Lauper, Yngwie Malmsteen, Little Steven, Happy the Man, and many others. Additionally, Rosenthal has "perfect pitch".

Ted Jensen American sound engineer

Ted Jensen is an American mastering engineer, known for having mastered many recordings, including the Eagles' Hotel California, Green Day's American Idiot and Norah Jones' Come Away with Me.

<i>A Time for Love</i> (Arturo Sandoval album) 2010 studio album by Arturo Sandoval

A Time for Love is the title of a studio album released by Cuban performer Arturo Sandoval. It was released by Concord Records on May 11, 2010. The album was produced by Jorge Calandrelli and Gregg Field and features collaborations by Chris Botti, Kenny Barron and Monica Mancini. The album includes a collection of classical pieces, standards, and ballads written by several writers such as Gabriel Fauré, Johnny Mandel, Johnny Mercer, Ogden Nash, Kurt Weill, Bruno Brighetti, Bruno Martino, Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, Marty Panzer, Ástor Piazzolla, Charlie Chaplin, Geoffrey Parsons, James Phillips, Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen, Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Michel Legrand and Cole Porter. Sandoval originally wanted to record and release the album by himself, until pianist Shelly Berg brought him to Gregg Field, of Concord Records, who brought in Grammy Award-winning arranger Jorge Calandrelli. They co-produced while Calandrelli arranged eight of the nine string charts, Berg arranged the rest and brought in his trio to back up Sandoval. Sandoval mentioned that his two greatest inspirations for this album were trumpeter Bobby Hackett's playing with the Jackie Gleason Orchestra, and the album Clifford Brown with Strings.

Don DeVito was an American record producer, music business executive and guitarist. His career was spent at Columbia Records, where his production credits included Bob Dylan's albums Desire, Hard Rain, Street-Legal, and Bob Dylan At Budokan.

A & R Recording Inc. was a major American independent studio recording company founded in 1958 by Jack Arnold and Phil Ramone.

The Lords of 52nd Street is a rock band that primarily comprises members of the line-up which backed singer-songwriter Billy Joel from 1976 to 1981, the period during which Joel initiated a run of albums that reached the top ten on the Billboard charts.

Paul Boutin is a French-born American music mixer, audio engineer and a long-time collaborator with producer/songwriter/artist Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.

Brian Vibberts is an American audio engineer, a native of Portland, Connecticut, who has been active since 1991. He is a 6-time Grammy Award winner, and has participated in the making of numerous albums that have resulted in Grammy Award nominations and winners. Also known by the nickname, "Dr Vibb," he has creatively recorded or mixed many multi-platinum artists in many genres, including Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, The Pussycat Dolls, Bon Jovi, Natasha Bedingfield, Green Day, Trace Adkins, Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Ice Cube, Boyz II Men, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea, Brad Paisley, Ringo Starr, Mariah Carey and Tony Bennett.

Bradshaw Leigh American Audio Engineer

Brad Leigh is an American Audio Engineer, known for having recorded and mixed many recordings including Billy Joel's River of Dreams, Tracy Chapman's Matters of the Heart as well as Julian Lennon's Valotte and Secret Value of Daydreaming

Jim Boyer (audio engineer) American audio engineer

James Boyer, in Lebanon, PA is an American audio engineer, known for having recorded and mixed many recordings including Billy Joel's The Stranger, 52nd Street and The Nylon Curtain, and the soundtracks for Yentl and Silkwood, as well as producing Billy Joel's The Matter of Trust: A Bridge to Russia, Rupert Holmes' Partners in Crime and Peter Cetera's Peter Cetera.

William H. Schwartau (1926–1985) was an American recording engineer. He engineered artists such as Ray Charles, Peter, Paul & Mary, Bill Evans, Herbie Mann and Duke Ellington. Schwartau was a mentor to engineer Phil Ramone, who called Schwartau "one of the unsung heroes of our industry". Schwartau worked for NBC, Decca, Coastal Recording Studio, and Music Makers.


  1. 1 2 Gallo, Phil. "Producer Phil Ramone dead at 79". Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "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. 1 2 "US music producer and CD pioneer Phil Ramone dies". BBC News. March 30, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  5. 1 2 "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. 1 2 "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. 1 2 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