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'Pope of Pop' Phil Ramone dies at the age of 79

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

'Pope of Pop' Phil Ramone recorded and produced the majority of contemporary music's biggest names. Burt Bacharach, Bono, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and Frank Sinatra are just a few of his names on his client list. Ramone has passed away at the age of 79 following heart surgery.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Winning a phenomenal 14 Grammys, there was little doubt that Ramone would be ensconced in the world of music. A violin prodigy, he began studying music at the age of three. At 10, he performed for Queen Elizabeth II.

Ramone decided that performing wasn't for him and turned his attentions to making other musicians sound good. He opened his own studio, New York's A&R Recordings, and developed a friendship with Atlantic Records' renowned engineer and producer, Tom Dowd.

Ramone made his own distinctive brand across most all types of music, embracing the old and the new, working across all genres of music and served as chair of the board of trustees of The Recording Academy.

Ramone would turn his attention to music for the stage and screen. His scores for Broadway and off-Broadway productions included "Chicago" and "The Wiz." Soundtracks that he produced for the silver screen included such hits as "Flashdance," "Ghostbusters" and "Midnight Cowboy."

And in television, he produced and supervised music for television specials such as the Oscars, Elton John at Radio City Music Hall, "The Jim Henson Hour" and "The Muppets at Walt Disney World."

Self-effacing, Ramone said his success was due to the talent he surrounded himself with. "It's all about the raw material," he told CNN in 2005 from his home in Westchester County, New York. "You have to be prepared for anything that comes."

"Today we lost one of the true musicians, innovators and geniuses of the record industry," musical composer and producer Quincy Jones said. "His immense talents were only surpassed by the gigantic size of his heart."

Stevie Wonder, who worked extensively for Ramone on his many Grammy-award winning albums, declared, "What a great man, what a kind spirit, such an incredible producer." Calling Ramone "the star of stars behind the stars." "Truly a tragic loss for us on earth but what a wonderful blessing for heaven."

Singer Aretha Franklin said in a statement, "This is so shocking. I just performed for his tribute in December . Truly one of the great names in music has gone on, but the melodies will remain."

Barbra Streisand recalled working with Ramone in 1967 when she did a free concert in New York's Central Park and noticed "his brilliance at capturing sound," she said. They would later work together on the film "A Star is Born" and later the soundtrack to "Yentl."

"Phil had impeccable musical taste, great ears and the most gentle way of bringing out the best in all the artists he worked with," Streisand said. "The monumental recordings he produced will endure for all time."

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