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Grammy Award-winning producer Phil Ramone dies at 79

NEW YORK (AP) -- Phil Ramone, the masterful Grammy Award-winning engineer, arranger and producer whose platinum touch included recordings with Ray Charles, Billy Joel and Paul Simon, died Saturday of complications stemming from heart surgery, his family said. He was 79.

Ramone, who lived in Wilton, Conn., had elective surgery on Feb. 27 to prevent an aortic aneurysm, son Matt Ramone said. He later developed pneumonia and died Saturday morning at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the son said.

Few in the recording industry enjoyed a more spectacular and diverse career. Phil Ramone won 14 competitive Grammy Awards and one for lifetime achievement. Worldwide sales for his projects topped 100 million. He was at ease with rock, jazz, swing and pop, working with Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, Elton John and Tony Bennett, Madonna and Lou Reed.

One of the biggest names not to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ramone was on hand for such classic albums as The Band's "The Band" and Bob Dylan's "Blood On the Tracks." He produced three records that went on to win Grammys for album of the year - Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years," Joel's "52nd Street" and Charles' "Genius Loves Company."

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