Monday, April 01, 2013

Phil Ramone

Every obituary I've read about Phil Ramone talks about the artists he worked with which is long and illustrious.  Of course there is Billy Joel; Phil's first production with him was The Stranger.  That album was the beginning of catapulting Joel into music legend status.  Joel has always given Phil credit for his work.   Phil was mainly engineering at that point in his career.  The Stranger was one of many in his string of big time producer credits. Phil was behind the board for the famous duet records of Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra.  He has numerous Grammys.

I've yet to read an article that mentions his short lived record company N2K Encoded Music.  That's how I know Phil.  I was managing the band mini-king, who passed up a deal with Columbia Records to sign with Phil and his new label. The label was all about new technology, which always interested Phil.  Their office was on Wall Street.  What?   They needed to be in a building that was equipped with the latest technology and the Wall Street building had it.  N2K had their own online music seller:  Music Boulevard.  This was 1997. 

Phil signed on to produce mini-king's first record.  The band was schooled and influenced by the great 60's and 70's pop songs, so working with Phil was a dream come true.  The band's founding member Michael LaMorte remembers working with Phil. 

While he was completely comfortable in his own skin, he could sense any sort of discomfort that most artists tend to have - especially before making a record, and would remedy this by describing the studio, or a place you have only read about - in great detail just to let your mind wander, thus putting you at ease. Not many people have a gift like that. Sort of a soothing/descriptive way about Phil. I learned so much from him - I wish every artist could work with someone like Phil at some point in their career.

Back Cover mini-king unreleased album
The band and Phil recorded at Sony Studios.  The record was completed.  We hired a stylist.   The band took publicity shots and the album was suppose to come out on a Tuesday.  Monday we got word the label, cut staff and was restructuring, which was one way of saying the label would no longer exist in a short time.  That week's Billboard Magazine had a full page ad on the back cover promoting the album.  The biggest loss was that mini-king did not make another album and the Phil Ramone produced record never was officially released. (Listen to 3 tracks from the album on Reverb Nation.)  The good news is Michael LaMorte is still playing music under the name Miguelito LaMorte, scoring animated projects (The Rattles) and is getting ready to unleash his film project Superstitious

Phil was upbeat and had fantastic stories to tell. He lived and breathed music and then shared it with us. 

Related Note:   I watched the documentary Family Band:  The Cowsills Story on Showtime.  Ironically their first big hit  The Rain, The Park and Other Things was recorded at A and R studios in New York.  Phil Ramone owned A and R Studios. 


  1. Wow. Phil Ramone was everywhere.
    And you pointed out why so many artists trusted him. The world needs more Phil Ramones.
    Great Blog Paula !!

  2. just found this on-line Paula! Thanks for thinking of us. We had a lot of fun working with you and the gang at Metropolitan. Definitely crazy times. Hope all is well. Be sure to look me up if you're ever in Toronto. I'm in the beer biz now!
    All the best,