A Tribute To Phil Ramone

Chairman Jimmy Webb: As Chairman of the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, it is with unebbing sadness that I attempt to express the immensity of the wound that our music community and industry have suffered this day with the loss of Phil Ramone, musician, producer, philosopher and friend. Phil’s consistent response to any inquiry regarding his health or emotional state was always a wide smile and cheerful “how could it be any better?”

Phil loved the Songwriters Hall Of Fame deeply and was a constant presence.  And he loved songwriters with such an open, innocent passion that his musical heart was right there on his sleeve for all of us to see.  How fortunate we are for the gift of Phil Ramone and all he did to enrich the musical world with his taste, and patience, and unflagging good humor. 

How will the SHOF go on without Phil Ramone—and without Hal David whom we lost recently as well? We will go on because they wanted this dream to happen more than any two other people. It is our sacred duty to make that dream of honoring the songwriter come true.  So many are fully committed at this very moment to making Johnny Mercer’s almost whimsical idea of the Songwriters Hall of Fame a reality. 

How fitting that Phil’s most recent project was with Dionne Warwick. How comforting that Hal and Phil are together now in Heaven’s control room. All of us at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame extend our sympathy and deepest love and support to the family of Phil Ramone; his wife Karen and his sons Matthew, William and Simon. For their sake let’s get this dream together.

With sympathy, hope and good will,

Jimmy L. Webb

President/CEO Linda Moran: Phil was a vital member of the Board of Directors of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the music producer of our annual gala for over a decade. All of our inductees, honorees and performers were honored to have the opportunity to work with the legendary Phil Ramone. He never believed what we all knew, that his name added a certain amount of panache to every project it was attached to.

His knowledge, musical genius, kindness and friendship will be missed more than he would ever believe possible. He would be absolutely amazed at the sentiments of affection and love being expressed for him and by the incredible number of people whose lives he touched. Why? Simply because he never knew that he was a national treasure! 

RIP dear friend,
Linda Moran

Remembering Phil: Comments from Board Members

“Phil was a rare combination of musician and techno wizard. A child prodigy on violin, he turned from playing music to producing—and the world was rewarded by his choice. He mastered the art and science of recording music as an engineer and with an amazing ear for what ‘felt right’ he chose the right songwriter, the right song, the right artist, the right band—and the result was a lifetime of musical associations and artistry that we’ll celebrate for decades, probably centuries to come. Ramone was my friend and for a while my manager. The world lost a giant today.” Paul Williams

“Rest In Peace Phil Ramone! It was an honor to know him and consider him a friend. What a dear man. Aside from his extraordinary talents and accomplishments, he was a down to earth, easy going, friendly, and kind person. He made everyone around him feel special. He was surrounded by ‘A Listers’ his entire life, having produced the TOP artists in the world. Yet, he was so humble and approachable. When he talked to you, he made you feel like an A lister too! And he was very giving of himself! He really enjoyed ‘giving back.’ I remember the first time I interviewed him in front of an audience of young aspiring music people (20+ yrs ago) where he gave an incredible talk and won the hearts of all of us! He would always say ‘yes’ to an opportunity to share his stories, and to help inspire others. A great man. A great loss.” Linda Lorence Critelli

“I don’t know what to say. I am so proud to have known him and to have the honor to have worked with him. I know I am not the only one with a broken heart today. What a beautiful guy.” John Titta

“I thought he would be with us forever. . .he was so much the heart and soul of the music of two generations of music lovers. He’s up there hangin’ with Sinatra and Lennon, and oh, how he will be missed!” Robbin Ahrold

“I’m so sorry to hear about Phil passing away. It’s hard to believe, as I was with him early this year. I first worked with Phil and Hal at A and R Studios on my Album 99 Miles from LA in the eary 70’s, and then again when he and I produced the duet between Frank Sinatra and Julio Iglesias. I’m really lost for words because he looked so good and seemed so happy last time I saw him. Life seems unfair at times; first Hal and now Phil. Please send my most sincere condolences to his family, I will miss him.” Albert Hammond

“Phil was one of the sweetest, gentlest, most patient and talented people we have ever had the pleasure to know.  He will be greatly missed.” Edith and Ervin Drake

“A great shock,  great loss,  great void! Can’t imagine the world without him in it! I first met Phil many years ago when I was introduced to him by Hal David. Since that time,  I was privileged to work with him on many different occasions and in a variety of ways.  I was his “campaign manager” (although he didn’t need one!) when he ran for the office of Chairman of the Recording Academy, a role he thoroughly enjoyed.  I also had the honor of assisting him on many shows—-including the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize Award honoring Hal David and Burt Bacharach. I came to know Phil well not only as the musical giant he was, but also as a gentle giant that characterized him as a human being. His tempo was never frantic in a frantic industry—-he was always calm, confident, and caring. He was sensitive to the needs of the artists he worked with—-and sensitive to all of those with whom he interfaced.  He always asked me about my family, was interested in my children, and always had helpful
tips to share. Hal David always told me that Phil had “the best ears in the business.” Seeing Phil in action in a recording studio or show stage—-made you understand and appreciate Hal’s comment.  But Phil was also an innovator—pushing the barriers to enable remote duet recordings and other sound miracles. When I caught the news about his passing on TV,  there was a bit of a mix up about his age at the time of his passing.  To me,  Phil was forever young.  His optimism and enthusiasm were always apparent,  and his energy was legendary. In his lifetime,  he was admired,  respected,  and loved by all who knew him.  He leaves a legacy of recordings that will never be equalled in their diversity and quality.  He leaves a tremendous hole in all of our hearts and I will miss him every day.” Karen Sherry

“There are few people of the thousands you meet in life that you can say made a lasting impression. One such person was our friend Phil Ramone. To say he will be missed is an understatement of vast proportion. Too soon, Phil.” April Anderson

Words from Friends (see Jim Bessman’s tribute for The Examiner):

“I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band. He was the band member that no one ever saw onstage. He was with me as long as any of the musicians I ever played with—longer than most. 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. The music world lost a giant today.” Billy Joel

“Phil Ramone was a lovely person and 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. Phil had the admiration and respect from everyone in the entertainment industry and his passing is a great loss.” Tony Bennett

“I’m so saddened to learn of Phil’s passing. We first worked together in 1967 when I did a free concert in Central Park. His brilliance at capturing sound was immediately evident. Later we worked together on the film A Star Is Born, where Phil was able to record me singing live, including ‘Evergreen.’ In the next decade we worked on the soundtrack to Yentl and many other recordings. Phil had impeccable musical taste, great ears and the most gentle way of bringing out the best in all the artists he worked with. The monumental recordings he produced will endure for all time.” Barbra Streisand

“Truly one of the great names in music has gone on, but the melodies will remain.” Aretha Franklin

“Ramone was the star of stars behind the stars. 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.” Stevie Wonder

“The epitome of class. One of not only the greatest producers EVER but one of the greatest people EVER, Phil Ramone has passed away.” Dianne Warren

“Phil Ramone, a giant in the recording world; kind beyond words.” Bette Midler

“He was a gift to [his] artists and to the world.” Carole King

“Our industry has lost an immense talent and a true visionary and genius. Everyone who encountered Phil came away a better person for it, professionally and personally.” Neil Portnow

“My first really A-level sessions in NYC were for Phil. Because of his kindness and encouragement I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to hang at that level. He was always very generous and told me so many great stories about all of the legendary NYC trumpet sections of the past. The music industry has lost a true gem.” Barry Danielian

“Phil only had friends….A man of decency ,  generosity of spirit,  and compassion, with overflowing talent. We are immobilized and grieve his loss. Our condolences to Karen, the love of his life.” Freddie Gershon

“Phil was truly the best of us. He was my friend and mentor, as he was to countless others. The measure of this man resided in his deep-seated humility, ethics, lust for life and constantly taking the time to count his blessings and trying to convince us all that he didn’t deserve them.” Mike Greene

“In our house growing up, we just about wore out the grooves on ‘There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.’ I always thought the few seconds of chatter/jibberish at the beginning of ‘Loves Me Like A Rock’ held some deeper meaning. So when I had the chance, I asked Phil. He said it was simply the Dixie Hummingbirds warming up but couldn’t remember why it made it onto the album. I was certainly deflated but still laugh thinking about his laid back answer to a question that had puzzled me since I was 7. A privilege to have worked with the man who produced such a large part of the soundtrack to my childhood.” Robert Hack