NEW YORK, États-Unis - Phil Ramone, le producteur musical récompensé aux Grammys qui a travaillé avec des légendes telles que Ray Charles, Billy Joel et Paul Simon, est décédé samedi des suites de complications liées à une chirurgie cardiaque, a annoncé sa famille. Il était âgé de 79 ans.

M. Ramone, qui vivait dans le Connecticut, a subi une intervention chirurgicale non urgente le 27 février pour éviter un anévrisme de l'aorte, a indiqué son fils Matt. Phil Ramone a par la suite développé une pneumonie et a rendu l'âme dans un hôpital new-yorkais.

Peu de gens ayant travaillé dans l'industrie musicale ont connu une carrière plus spectaculaire et diversifiée. M. Ramone a remporté 14 prix Grammy, en plus d'un trophée pour l'ensemble de son oeuvre. Les ventes mondiales de ses projets ont atteint 100 millions $. Il était à l'aise avec le rock, le jazz, le swing et la pop, travaillant avec Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Elton John et Tony Bennett, ou encore Madonna et Lou Reed.

L'un des grands noms à ne pas avoir été intronisé au Temple de la renommée du rock and roll, M. Ramone était un pionnier de l'enregistrement numérique, produisant ce qui est considéré comme le premier lancement d'envergure sur un disque compact, «52nd Street», paru en 1982.

Il a également carrément fait partie de l'histoire politique, conseillant plusieurs administrations présidentielles sur des événements musicaux, et sur la façon d'enregistrer des conférences de presse, en plus d'enregistrer la célèbre soirée d'anniversaire du président John F. Kennedy lors de laquelle Marylin Monroe a chanté son célèbre «Happy Birthday».

Né en Afrique du Sud, M. Ramone semblait destiné à faire de la musique. Il jouait du violon dès l'âge de trois ans et a été formé à l'école Julliard. Il aurait pu connaître une brillante carrière en musique classique, mais il a été attiré à l'adolescence vers la musique populaire qu'il écoutait en secret sur un appareil radio portable, soit la musique que les gens écoutaient vraiment, avait-il précisé.

Phil Ramone était l'un des visages les plus connus du métier, mais il pouvait malgré tout marcher pratiquement partout sans être reconnu. Il n'était pas un visionnaire agité à la Phil Spector, mais plutôt un artisan accompli et un diplomate qui possédait un style effacé et se disait fier de son rôle de «filtre objectif» pour l'artiste, et non pas «un hurleur».

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