COMMENTS

Miggs and the Phil Ramone connection

/
MIGGS SHOT 5

Walker Adams, Michael Lombardo, Don Miggs and John Luzzi will be testing new songs Saturday night at The Orpheum. (Courtesy photo)

Legendary producer Phil Ramone died a year ago on March 30. Don Miggs gets a broad smile whenever he thinks of him.

Ramone, a 14-time Grammy winner, mixed musical magic for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Paul Simon and Billy Joel over a five-decade career. One of his final projects before his death was working with Miggs’ eponymous group.

The Tampa-based rock band’s “15th & Hope,” released in 2012 via Elm City Music/EMI, was Ramone’s first true rock record since Joel’s “The Stranger.”

“His son, BJ, was working as an audio engineer at Morrisound Recording in Tampa,” Miggs said, “and after about a year of him interning there, one day he asked me, ‘Do you mind if I mix this album my dad worked on?’ I said ‘Sure, who’s the band?’ He said, ‘Chicago.’ Then I put two and two together.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. Is your dad Phil Ramone?’ He said yes. ‘You’ve been working here a year and you’re just now telling me your father is Phil Ramone?!’ ”

Phil Ramone

Phil Ramone. (AP ARCHIVE PHOTO)

Miggs grew up on Long Island, N.Y., loving all things Phil Ramone and Billy Joel. Now Ramone’s son was suddenly telling him that the producer enjoyed Miggs’ past work.

A light went off in Miggs’ head.

“Do you think your dad would want to work with a rock band again?” he asked BJ. “He said, ‘I think he would love it. He loved your last record.’ That just blew me away.”

Before Miggs knew it, Ramone was in Tampa, staying at his home for four weeks as he oversaw “15th & Hope.”

“He was such an unassuming guy and yet he seemed so fragile because of his health,” Miggs said. “Around our house, we wear slippers all the time, so I got him a pair of slippers and before he left he signed them for me.

“He was such a trouper. We would stay up late working on the album and he would doze off. You would think he was sound asleep but when he heard a bad note, he would snap right up and say ‘No, that’s a B-flat.’ He could go into a zone. Phil ‘freaking’ Ramone is in my studio, I couldn’t believe it.”

Miggs learned a lot from his experience with Ramone and now has moved on to working with songwriter and producer Charlie Midnight, who wrote James Brown’s “Living in America.”

Miggs and his band will be testing songs from their next album, due in the fall, during a hometown show Saturday night (March 29) at The Orpheum in Ybor City and on a subsequent national tour that runs through early May.

“We wrote like 25 to 27 songs together,” Miggs said. “I want it to feel like a real album, not just a bunch of songs thrown together and hoping one of them sticks.

“We’re going to take these songs on the road to smaller venues, and the big challenge is having fans come out and hear them. Honestly, I haven’t done songs like this or been in a band with four people in the same boat going in the same direction like this. I’m so excited for people to hear it.”

GET A FREE DOWNLOAD OF MIGGS' NEW SONG "THE DRIFTER"

MIGGS
7 p.m. Saturday (March 29). With Open Air Stereo and Man On Earth. The Orpheum, 1915 E. 17th Ave., Ybor City, Tampa. $12-$15. All ages. (813) 248-9500; theorpheum.com.
Last modified: April 4, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.
COMMENTS