Two of Tommy LiPuma’s closest friends, who worked with the beloved producer and A&R exec at Warner Bros. Records during the storied label’s golden age, offer tributes straight from the heart.
Tommy had a major effect on me. We were fortunate that we were part of that Warners A&R staff; it was a great group of people, incredibly talented, in one room. But beyond that, Tommy was incredibly special and brilliant, and he had such humility. His influence on so many people is just amazing.
As a producer, he controlled things when necessary, and his taste was impeccable, but his greatest strength was his ability to make everyone he was working with, musicians and artists, better because they wanted to please him. He had that effect on me too.
When I was working on a record, I’d play it for him if I had the courage, and if he liked it, it would certainly make my day, maybe my week—I’m serious. It was that way as long as I was making records. Whenever I was in the studio, at some point I’d ask myself, I wonder what Tommy would think of this?
Only a handful of people had this gift. He was the kind of person you wanted to be around; he was really funny without trying. He was always there when you needed him, and he was incredibly loyal. And you could pick up on it. Tommy was one of those guys who was totally transparent in every way—there was nothing phony about him. He was an amazing guy, one of a kind.
My friendship with Tommy LiPuma goes back almost 60 years. During that time, he became a world-class music producer, selling millions of records and winning multiple Grammys. A true giant in the music industry.
He also became as adept in the kitchen as he was in the recording studio—cooking fabulous dinners for friends and family, and becoming a connoisseur of fine wines. He loved to travel, loved literature. and amassed a wonderful collection of fine art. Somehow, he also found time to paint, and loved the environment and serenity that his home in upstate New York provided. He was able to attain balance in his life with Gill, his two daughters and his four grandchildren.
Tommy also spent much of his time establishing the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts, a part of Cleveland Community College. He helped prepare the curriculum, and facilities for students who are interested in recording music.
He was truly a modern-day Renaissance man. I was so very fortunate to know him well, and to share decades of a wonderful friendship. I loved him and miss him terribly.
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