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Tommy LiPuma (1936–2017)

by Kirk Fox

Grammy-winning record producer worked with Paul McCartney.

Tommy LiPuma, a Grammy-winning record producer, died Monday, March 13, 2017, in New York City after a brief illness, according to multiple news sources. He was 80.

LiPuma was born July 5, 1936, in Cleveland, Ohio, and learned to play the tenor saxophone during childhood. He began his music career playing in local big bands while he attended barber school. His plan was to become a barber like his father. He went on tour with a band and decided to pursue a music career instead.


He became a promotional representative for Liberty Records and worked his way up in the music industry. He started to produce records, collaborating with artists such as Randy Newman and the O’Jays. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss hired LiPuma to be the first staff producer for their A&M record label.

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LiPuma formed Blue Thumb records with Bob Krasnow in the late 1960s and worked on records by Gerry Rafferty, the Pointer Sisters, and Ike and Tina Turner. He would go on to produce at Columbia Records, Warner Brothers, Elektra, and Verve Records.

LiPuma executive produced Natalie Cole’s record “Unforgettable … With Love,” which won three Grammy awards. He produced Paul McCartney’s first album of standards called “Kisses on the Bottom.” LiPuma continued to work, and he produced the upcoming Diana Krall album titled “Turn Up the Quiet,” which is scheduled for release May 5 on Verve Records.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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