Sorry to hear of the death this morning of Phil Ramone, one of America’s greatest music producers, from complications related to an aortic aneurysm. His 2007 book, “Making Records,” was a wonderful memoir of working with such performers as Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, and Ray Charles.
In 1977, he produced [Billy] Joel’s “The Stranger,” which kicked off a seven-album, decade-long relationship with the Long Island-raised singer-songwriter. He and Joel were “both lunatics,” he once said.
For the screeching tires on “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” from “The Stranger,” Ramone recorded bassist Doug Stegmeyer’s Corvette peeling out, taping a microphone to the tailpipe. He also added a bit of echo to Joel’s whistling throughout the album.
“There’s nothing like the challenge of devising and reproducing an effect you’re looking for,” Ramone wrote in his 2007 book, Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music, “Sometimes that chase is more exciting than the catch.”
Ramone won the record of the year Grammy for Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” from the album (after removing a “cha-cha-cha” background from the song), captured album of the year for the follow-up “52nd Street” and was named producer of the year in 1980 after guiding the rock-infused “Glass Houses,” which featured Joel’s first chart-topping single, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”
On Oct. 1, 1982, “52nd Street” became the first commercially released compact disc, and Ramone later received a Technical Grammy for his lifetime of innovative contributions to the industry.