New York, NY (June 26, 2006)--The record industry has lost one of its most successful producer/engineer/arrangers: Arif Mardin died yesterday. He was 74 and, according to Billboard, had been suffering from pancreatic cancer for about a year. He is survived by his wife Latife, son, producer/engineer Joe, daughter Julie and daughter Nazan Joffre. The Mardin family has made this statement:
"In Arif Mardin, the world has lost a great musician and a great man. We are so grateful for the love and support we have received during his brave battle with this awful disease. He touched so many lives. Our family has lost a loving husband and the best father anyone could ever have, but he will live forever in his music.
At the time of his death, Mardin was working on an album, tentatively titled All My Friends Are Here. It is Mardin's life's work; he composed all the pieces and wrote most of the lyrics. Participating artists include Norah Jones, Bette Midler, Dr. John and Chaka Khan. The album will be completed by Arif's son and co-producer, Joe Mardin. His funeral will be in Istanbul, Turkey with a memorial to be held in the fall. Arrangements have not yet been made for charitable donations.
Mardin had an amazing career, starting in the early days of Atlantic Records with The Young Rascals' 1965 #1 hit "Good Lovin," to Bette Midler's 1989 #1 hit and Record Of The Year, "Wind Beneath My Wings," all the way to his Producer of the Year Grammy Award in 2003 for Norah Jones' album, Come Away With Me.
Over the past 40 years, Mardin has worked with many of the most illustrious artists in the history of contemporary music including: Average White Band, the Bee Gees, Judy Collins, Phil Collins, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Hall & Oates, Donny Hathaway, Jewel, Chaka Khan, Melissa Manchester, Bette Midler, Modern Jazz Quartet, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Carly Simon, Dusty Springfield, Barbra Streisand and many more.
Born in 1932 in Istanbul, Turkey, Arif Mardin graduated from Istanbul University in Economics and studied at the London School of Economics. Although Mardin is a self-professed jazz fanatic, as well as an accomplished orchestrator/arranger, he never intended to pursue a career in music. However, in 1956 meeting jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and young arranger Quincy Jones proved to be a stroke of fate. This led to his being the first recipient of the Quincy Jones Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In 1958 Mardin and his wife, Latife left Istanbul for Boston. After graduating in 1961, he taught at Berklee for one year and moved to New York to try his luck in the big city. Mardin was eventually made a trustee of the school and awarded an honorary doctorate.
Mardin began his career at Atlantic Records in 1963 as an assistant to the legendary jazz enthusiast and founder, Nesuhi Ertegun. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming studio manager, label house producer and arranger. In 1969, he became a vice president and subsequently served as senior vice president until May 2001. Mardin worked closely on many projects with founder Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, two legends who were responsible for establishing the "Atlantic Sound." His collaborations with the Bee Gees led to the smash hit "Jive Talkin'." Mardin's chart-toppers also include the #1 singles "Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band, "Against All Odds" and "Separate Lives" (a duet with Marilyn Martin) by Phil Collins, "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan. In 1974 Arif composed and arranged the music for Khalil Gibran's book, The Prophet, recited by the late Richard Harris.
In his more than 40-year career, Mardin has collected close to 60 gold and platinum albums, over 15 Grammy nominations and 12 Grammy awards. In 1990, Mardin was inducted into the NARAS Hall of Fame. In the same year Mardin received the Turkish American Of The Year Award from the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. His speech was entered into the Congressional Record.
In 1992, Mardin received the Shofar Of Peace Award from the Sephardic Community of Los Angeles, commemorating 500 years of peace and friendship between the Jewish and Turkish communities. In 1992 he also produced the music for Bette Midler's ABC-TV movie, Gypsy. Mardin composed and arranged the music for Her Infinite Variety: Women Of Shakespeare recited by the world renowned great and late stage actress Irene Worth, CD released in 1993. In 1996, Mardin earned his sixth Grammy for his production of the Original Broadway Cast Album of Smokey Joe's Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller. The following year he received a Grammy nomination for the platinum album, The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Rent. In December 1997, Mardin was one of the recipients of the NARAS Heroes Award presented by Ahmet Ertegun.
Other projects in 1997 included Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella starring Whitney Houston and Brandy that aired on ABC television. Productions for Patti Labelle as well as Barbra Streisand's multi-platinum album Higher Ground were all in the same year. When asked about that year, Mardin muses, "Barbra, Patti, Carly, Bette, Whitney made 1997 'My Year Of The Diva'."
In 1998, Mardin served as producer for the soundtrack for the Warner Brothers Motion Picture Why Do Fools Fall In Love. Other projects included: productions for Bette Midler's Bathhouse Betty as well as on Diana Ross' Everyday Is A New Day, plus the ABC-TV movie Double Platinum starring Miss Ross and Brandy. Mardin also produced two tracks on Barbra Streisand's A Love Like Ours. Mardin closed the millennium with Jewel's Joy: A Holiday Collection, an album of Christmas and inspirational songs.
2001 continued to be a year of honors. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences bestowed upon Mardin a Trustees Award--a special merit lifetime achievement Grammy conferred on individuals for significant contributions other than performance. Mardin was named "Man of the Year" by the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, a charitable organization that provides music therapy to autistic and other severely disabled children. He also received the "Ertegun Impact Award" as presented by the Boston Music Awards, and delivered the Keynote Address at the NEMO Conference.
Mardin retired from Atlantic Records in May 2001. In September 2001, EMI Recorded Music North America entered into a unique multi-faceted arrangement with Arif Mardin; he occupied the position of Vice-President and General Manager of the re-instituted Manhattan Records label until September 2004 when he retired.
Mardin's first production project at EMI was Norah Jones' debut multi-platinum album, Come Away With Me, for Blue Note, EMI. For that achievement he also received a Grammy for Producer Of The Year, his first Grammy being the same award for the year 1975. Arif also produced the great jazz singer, Dianne Reeves that yielded a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Jones' second album "Feels Like Home" was finished in December 2003, Norah co-producing. Some sessions took place in Woodstock, NY where legendary "Band" members Levon Helm and Garth Hudson joined her band.
In 2003, Mardin was honored with the Lifting Up the World with a Oneness-Heart Award, presented by the Peace Meditation Group at the UN and goodwill advocate Sri Chinmoy. He also delivered the Keynote Address at the annual AES convention. In 2004 Arif and his son Joe co-produced six songs for Queen Latifah's The Dana Owens Album. In June 2004, Arif was the recipient of the Lester Sills Humanitarian Award, given by RP International, an important organization that raises funds for the treatment of eye diseases in the fight against blindness.
Joe and Arif produced Manhattan artist Raul Midon's debut album. Mardin is an incredible vocalist and guitar player is blind from birth. He also recorded the track "A House Is Not A Home" with Aretha Franklin for the recent Luther Vandross tribute CD. In 2005, Mardin was inducted into the TEC Awards Hall of Fame.
Mardin was married to Latife who is a writer, for 48 years. Their son Joe is also a producer, arranger and Berklee graduate. Daughter Julie is an avant-garde artist-photographer. Mardin also composed an opera, I Will Wait.
Mardin has made an indelible mark on the music industry. As stated by Universal Records' CEO Doug Morris "When I entered the music business, I hoped to be able to work alongside people like Arif Mardin; creative, brilliant pioneers who, aside from their talent, convey an unmistakable presence. The consummate gentleman, Arif is someone whose joy for music makes it all worthwhile."
Upon Mardin's retirement from EMI, Bruce Lundvall, CEO of EMI Jazz and Classics, sent a long e-mail to all the staff. Here is one paragraph: "We will miss his enthusiasm, friendship, gentle humor and erudition as he reminded us daily that it's always about artists and the music."