Music producer, writer and innovative force behind some of pop music's most famous songs Phil Ramone has died, aged 79, at a hospital in New York. The man nicknamed 'The Pope of Pop' passed away early on Saturday morning (March 30), Billboard reports, with the cause of death being witheld by his family for the time being.

Phil Ramone
Phil Ramone, 1934 - 2013

Ramone worked with a veritable who's who of 20th century music legend, sharing studio time with the likes of Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and Frank Sinatra, to name a few of the hundreds of great artists he help produce. Aside from working as a music producer, Ramone was also a gifted musician and even performed the violin in front of Queen Elizabeth II when he was 10 years old. As he grew older though he became more interested in making others sound good and opened the now legendary A&R Recordings Studio in New York, where he first began to develop his influential friendship with Atlantic Records engineer and producer, Tom Dow, whom Ramone considered his mentor.

Ramone never confined himself to one particular genre or artist and would go on to have a profound impact on every area he visited with his work. As well as earning success working with some of the most famous artists of his time, he also moved into film and Broadway, providing numbers and even whole soundtracks for such productions as Chicago and The Wiz and movies such Flashdance, Ghostbusters and Midnight Cowboy. He also provided musical arrangements for the Grammy and Oscars and special one off events such as Elton John's performance at Radio City Music Hall.

BJ Thomas' 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' was produced by Ramone

As the news of Ramone's death spread, so too did the response of well wishers who had had the privilege of working with the man. Aretha Franklin said in an official statement: "Truly one of the great names in music has gone on, but the melodies will remain," whilst Billy Joel told the press "I always thought of Phil Ramone as the most talented guy in my band. ... The music world lost a giant today." Stars including Quincy Jones, Elton John and Barbara Streisand are but three others who have also issued a response to the passing of Ramone.

He was born in South Africa on January 5, 1934 and leaves behind a wife, Karen Ichiuji-Ramone, and three sons.