Phil Ramone: As Remembered By Family and Friends
May 1, 2013 9:00 AM
As Remembered By Family and Friends
Gregg Field, Concord Music Group
It was a sleepy Sunday afternoon during the summer of 1993 and we had just finished tracking Frank Sinatra’s mega Duets recording. The phone rang at the house and it was Phil with his typical greeting “Hey man!” Holy shit! PHIL RAMONE’s calling me?! That was the beginning of a friendship that grew deeper and filled with love with each passing year. For those who knew him well, Phil was an incredibly intuitive soul, friend, mentor and “guy.” During countless recordings, shows we produced together and the many late, nightcap infused, Ramone life and music lessons, usually with the just the two of us sitting in my living room, Phil gave and gave generously. He’s in every record I make and every note I play!
I was one of the fortunate artists who had the pleasure of being produced by Phil Ramone. It was any easy ask, he was a dear friend and I was recording covers of my early musical heroes and influences of the 60’s and 70’s, many whom he originally recorded back in the day. I knew Phil would bring an “old soul” essence to the project, and it was an absolute joy to record. Early on, when listening to vocal playbacks, he just wasn’t getting what he wanted from me. He said, “Monica…. stop “singing” the song and start telling the story.” I was a different singer after that. Just one of the many gifts that Phil gave me…
I was mixing the Gershwin Prize show, at the Library of Congress, and Phil was the Executive Producer. I’ve done a lot of shows with him, but this one stood out because he sat right next to me, shoulder to shoulder, for most of the show. He would make the occasional suggestion, but didn’t say much. At a certain point during the show I had that feeling that we were really nailing it, and Phil reached over, put his hand on my arm, and hold me there for a moment. It was probably the single most gratifying thing that’s happened in my career, knowing that I was moving someone who’s heard “everything.”
I will truly miss his company, and spirit. There wasn’t another one like him.
I graduated high school in 1966. Three years later I was assisting Phil Ramone at A&M Studios, mixing “Walking in Space,” a Grammy-winning record, for Large Jazz Ensamble. Sitting behind Phil Ramone and Quincy Jones. A dream come true! I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went on to work with Phil on Flashdance, mixing “Maniac,” “A Star Is Born,” “Yentl,” and many other projects. Phil, was always a person I enjoyed being around. A person whose experience and generosity, love of music, inspires me to this day. Thank You Phil!
"Phil Osophy." Phil held court whenever he was in the studios. He was so welcoming and happy to be back at Capitol. He gave us permission to use his quote "people play better here," for our website. Always innovative, he initiated the ISDN fiber optic system (installed at Capitol Studios for Sinatra Duets. He shared his wisdom and knowledge without arrogance. His humility and humor coached us and gave us confidence. One time during a session with Phil connecting from a New York studio via EDNet, I was alone in the control room as Phil 's voice came over the speakers saying, "Hello Los Angeles. I said, "It’s only me Phil," to which he remarked, "That’s fine, Paula, you can do it!" And you know, coming from Phil, I almost thought I could! Love and miss him.
Phil supervised sound quality for the Grammys. During the week, there’s a constant stream of visitors being given a tour of the TV truck, and they’re usually pretty impressed by all the electronics. Once they start to ask me questions, I’d stop them and say, “Have you met Phil Ramone?” and gesture toward Phil. Then, they'd all open their mouths, lose all interest in me, and turn toward Phil, who engaged them with his charm, wit, and great stories. They always left completely satisfied, as they had a new best friend named Phil Ramone. We miss you Phil.
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