Phil Ramone’s Greatest Collaborations: Sinatra, Simon, Billy, Bono, And…Marilyn?
But Billy Joel did put Ramone's picture on the cover--albeit the back cover--alongside his longtime group. “I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band,” said Joel in a statement Saturday. “He was the guy that no one ever, 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.” In earlier years, Joel had called Ramone "my George Martin," correlating him to the producer sometimes referred to as the Fifth Beatle.
As an engineer or producer, Ramone worked on a seemingly endless list of classics or unforgettable trifles, from Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks to the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight." He was producing the original Broadway cast album for Chicago at about the same time he was producing the band Chicago. Here are a dozen of the most remarkable songs or projects Ramone was associated with:
Barbra Steisand, "Evergreen." After hiring Ramone to handle the sound for her 1967 concert in Central Park, Streisand knew that he was up to challenging audio tasks. So she knew who to call when she had another audio challenge--to capture her chops on the fly as motion picture cameras were rolling. "The challenge with A Star Is Born was that Barbra wanted to break tradition and record all of the film's music live, as each scene was performed," he recalled in a Billboard interview. In his 2007 memoir, Making Records, he added: "One of the memories I savor is hearing ‘Evergreen’ for the first time. Barbra was learning to play guitar so her movement would look real in the film, and she’d improvised a pretty melody while practicing one night. The next day she came in and played it for us and it was superb--almost classical in its simplicity...She was reticent about contributing to the film something she’d written, but it was by far the finest song in the picture.” He went on to produce the music for Yentl, as well.