Phil Ramone: As Remembered By Family and Friends
May 1, 2013 9:00 AM
As Remembered By Family and Friends
Phil was my mentor and friend. He gave me my first job at A&R Recording back in October 10, 1967. He was the most generous guy whether he was buying you lunch or explaining why you shouldn't be using that microphone. He loved educating and training people. I was his assistant engineer during a good part of 1968. During that time I never really knew if I would be good enough to be an engineer.
In the spring of 1968 I was assisting Phil on a Jimmy Smith session. It was booked for three nights in Studio A, 7pm downbeat. On the 3rd day Phil was nowhere to be found. He finally called down to the studio and said he was gonna be late. He said go ahead and start without me.
That was Phil's way. Throw you from the frying pan into the fire. He thought I was ready and I've thanked him every day for giving me the opportunity and trust to start a career.
I will miss you dearly.
In my early days of managing Power Station, I was trying to bring in new high line clients. Phil was working on a new Billy Joel LP at the time and they were looking for a new studio to record in. I worked up the nerve to call Phil, who worked at PS a few years earlier. I was a GA at the time and I'm sure he didn't notice my existence. I was pretty nervous, but he spoke to me in a warm tone as a fellow professional. I began to relax and he then advised me on how to talk to Mr. Joel about coming to Power Station. That was the first of many things Phil taught me throughout my career.
Some things that stand out are:
The time Dave Smith, Gus Skinus and I walked a Sony 3324 down 7th Avenue to A&R Studios where we had to sneak it into a Frank Sinatra session while Sinatra was in the Studio recording. See, Sintra didn't want anything to do with the new digital technology, but Phil had to have it.
I always remember his almost subliminal off handed comments and one-liners that cut to the bone when he was not happy about something or someone. They often took a minute to sink in but always hit home. "This is baby shit!", or "What is this a luau?" come to mind most.
There are many others like when Ed Evans, Chief engineer at Power Station, recalls when Phil, "in an effort to move on past the discussion of a questionable Dolby alignment that stopped the session . 'This isn't an AES meeting !!'
A few years ago, when his book came out, Ed and I invited Phil to Austin, TX. The people we were working with there wanted to honor Phil by arranging for several book signing sessions and a couple radio/TV interviews. We spent 4 days with him from morning till night running around all over Austin. You would think that alone would have tiered him out, but no! We sat in the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel drinking vodka-tonics every night till closing as Phil held court and chatted up the many that came up to him to talk.
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