Thirteen years ago, the music world lost one of its greatest behind-the-scenes masterminds. The American Turkish Society commemorates Arif Mardin, (1932–2006) 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 since 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 retired from Atlantic Records in May 2001 and re-activated his label, Manhattan/EMI Records, from which he received great acclaim for his work with Norah Jones. During his 40-year career, Mardin collected over 40 gold and platinum albums, 15 Grammy nominations and 12 Grammy Awards. In a 2005 NPR interview, Mardin was asked for a piece of wisdom he would pass onto future producers. He responded with “I think, [you know], the most important thing is the song----no matter what kind of technology is used, all the machinery, all the computers, you still rely on a great song”.