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Phil Ramone, Legendary Music Producer, Dead at 79

Phil Ramone, Obit Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Phil Ramone, the famed record producer who worked with a who's who of music industry legends including Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand and Elton John, died on Saturday. He was 79.

According to published reports, Ramone died of complications from pneumonia, which came about after he was underwent surgery at a Manhattan hospital in late February to prevent an aortic aneurysm.

Ramone first launched his career as a sound engineer for jazz legends such as John Coltrane and Quincy Jones before quickly segueing to producing.

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Over a 50-year career, Ramone won 14 Grammy Awards and one lifetime achievement Grammy while supervising production on a slew of legendary albums. Among some of his most notable were 1964's landmark jazz record, Getz/Gilberto, for which he won his first trophy; 1975's folk-rock staple Still Crazy All These Years by Paul Simon; Dylan's seminal album Blood on the Tracks, and Billy Joel's 1977 release The Stranger.

Ramone went on to produce Broadway musical soundtracks like Stephen Sondheim's Passion as well as albums of original movie scores like the one for 1984's Flashdance. He also had a string of memorable concerts and film and TV production credits under his belt including A Star Is Born, Ghostbusters, Midnight Cowboy and Simon and Garfunkel: The Concert In Central Park.

One recording he oversaw that took on historic import was Marilyn Monroe's sultry performance of "Happy Birthday to You" to President John F. Kennedy at the latter's birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden.

In his later years, Ramone continued to churn out great work, pairing Frank Sinatra with U2's Bono for their classic 1993 duet of "I've Got You Under My Skin," producing Ray Charles' posthumous Grammy-winning album, Company Loves Genius, as well as collaborating with the likes of Tony Bennett, George Michael and Lady Gaga.

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