Remembering Arif Mardin
March 15, 1932 - June 25, 2006
Fourteen years ago, the music world lost one of its greatest behind-the-scenes masterminds. The American Turkish Society commemorates Arif Mardin, world-renowned producer/arranger and long-standing vice chairman of The Society.
Arif Mardin, born in 1932 in Istanbul, Turkey, was a world-famous music producer. Mardin studied at Istanbul University and the London School of Economics while pursuing music as a hobby, as he was interested in jazz from the age of 15. He later was inspired to take up music as a profession after meeting jazz trumpet player, Dizzy Gillespie. Mardin went on to be the first recipient to receive the Quincy Jones Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music. In 1961, Mardin graduated from the music school and remained there to teach for two years before he began his career at Atlantic Records in 1963. He began as an assistant to Nesuhi Ertegün, the brother of Ahmet Ertegün, Atlantic's co-founder. He worked closely on many projects with the company’s co-founder Ahmet Ertegun and producer Jerry Wexler. He quickly moved up the ranks and in 1969, he became vice president of Atlantic Records. Mardin's talent benefited numerous artists in a variety of genres such as Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Chaka Khan, Roberta Flack, Hall & Oates, Jewel, Patti Labelle, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr, and Barbra Streisand, among others. In 1990, Arif Mardin was inducted into the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.
Arif Mardin’s contribution to The Society as vice chairman and active member of the Cultural Expansion Committee spans over 20 years. He was instrumental in creating the committee and enhancing the cultural programs of ATS. In that respect, Mardin was the recipient of the “Award of Excellence” at an event hosted by ATS and Alem Magazine at the Tavern on the Green in December 2003.