Phil Ramone: As Remembered By Family and Friends

May 1, 2013 9:00 AM

As Remembered By Family and Friends


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photo of Hank Neuberger

Hank Neuberger

Hank Neuberger: What Bono Said About Phil that Night
Friends of Phil,
It was 10 years ago.
February 2003, Manhattan.
Just 15 months after 9-11.
New York City is still grieving, but healing.

The Grammys came back to New York that week.
The MusiCares Tribute Dinner was Friday night.
At the top of the Marriot Marquis in Times Square.
We were honoring Bono.

There really hadn't been any charity dinners like this in NY for the past 15 months.

At that moment in time, we couldn't have pulled it off with anyone other than Bono.
Phil was producing the Tribute program, of course.

Friday afternoon, Bono arrived to rehearse.
I was the MC Chairman at the time, and I walked over to thank him.
As I started to tell him that we couldn't have done this without his support, he held up his hand and stopped me.

I remember it like it was yesterday, here is what he said:

"I'm totally down with Musicares.  I'd do anything for Musicares."

And then his tone got more serious.

"But you have to understand......for control freaks like me, evenings like this are excruciating.
And the only way I can get through because I know he is here."
As he pointed across the empty ballroom, at Phil, on stage talking to the rhythm section.

I've often thought that about that in the last ten years.  Because Bono certainly wasn't the only one.

So many of the greatest artists of our lifetime, the ones who made music that lifted the whole world, must've found themselves in a dark studio staring at a blank page, or on a stage not sure how to make it through tonight's show.  And then, like Bono, they saw Phil across the room and thought, "the only way I can get through this, is because I know he is here."

And today, at this excruciating time, the only way I get through this, that we get through this, is because we can look in our hearts, and know that "he is here."

photo of Don Was

Don Was

Don Was
Phil's career as a producer/engineer spans 60 years…in EACH one of those six decades, he helmed major hit records that were monumental from both a creative AND commercial standpoint. this is a mind-blowing feat of enormous artistic magnitude that transcends any cursory explanations regarding  'luck' or 'good-timing'. Late one night in the fall of 2012, I cornered Phil and asked how he accomplished this…of course, he was way too humble to directly answer the question but he expounded about the primordial importance of music to human beings and the value of records that permeated into the deepest regions of our souls. he was humorously dubbed the 'pope of pop' but, in actual fact, the nickname is rooted in some basic truth: like a great spiritual leader, phil created an unparalleled body of work that brought comfort to millions of people...his records helped them make sense of their feelings and find meaning in their lives. Phil Ramone was the greatest recordmaker of all time and, to top it off, he was a lovely, generous and charismatic cat….nobody will ever take his place.

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