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Phil Ramone, Grammy-winning music producer, dies at 72

In this Oct. 6, 2008 photo, Arts Advocacy Award honoree Phil Ramone attends the 2008 National Arts Awards presented by Americans For The Arts at Cipriani's 42nd St. in New York. Ramone, the Grammy Award-winning engineer and producer whose platinum touch included recordings with Ray Charles, Billy Joel and Paul Simon, has died. He was 72. (Evan Agostini)

March 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Legendary Grammy-winning music producer Phil Ramone has died at the age of 72, his son confirmed Saturday.

As a leader in the recording industry, Ramone was involved in the recordings of many hits, having worked with Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Tony Bennett, Madonna, and Lou Reed throughout his career.

The masterful engineer, arranger, and producer won 14 competitive Grammy Awards and one for lifetime achievement. Some of the songs he produced that went on to win Grammys include Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years," Joel's "52nd Street" and Charles' "Genius Loves Company."

In a statement Saturday, Bennett said it was a joy to work with Ramone.

"Phil Ramone was a lovely person and a very gifted musician and producer," Bennett said. "He had a wonderful sense of humor and a deep love of music."

Ramone broke grounds in the music industry by producing what is considered the first major commercial release on compact disc, "52nd Street," in 1982.

He was even part of political history, helping to arrange John F. Kennedy's forty-fifth birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden where Marilyn Monroe famously sang the former president "Happy Birthday".

Other recording artists for whom Ramone produced songs include Ray Charles, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand, Judy Collins, Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto.

"I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band," Billy Joel said in a statement. "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 South Africa native thrived whether producing music for the stereo, television, film or the stage. He won an Emmy for a TV special about Duke Ellington, a Grammy for the soundtrack to the Broadway musical "Promises, Promises" and a Grammy for the soundtrack to "Flashdance."

His son, Matt Ramone, did not immediately release details of the death, but says his father was "very loving and will be missed."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.