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Producer Arif Mardin Remembered as Man with Golden Musical Touch


One of America's most prolific music producers Arif Mardin died Sunday June 25 in New York. He was 74. Mardin had been battling pancreatic cancer for the past year. VOA's Doug Levine has more on the man with the golden musical touch.

Arif Mardin had a knack for knowing what audiences wanted. He was also a natural at matching just the right artist with just the right song. And nobody topped his sense of timing. When the Bee Gees hit a rut in the early '70s, Mardin encouraged the group to take a disco direction. Under Mardin's wing, the "reinvented" Bee Gees had their first Number One hit in four years with "Jive Talkin'," setting the stage for more hits in the years to come.

Arif Mardin came to United States from his native Turkey in 1958. Although he held degrees in commerce and economics from the University of Istanbul, his passion for American jazz drove him toward a career in music. He enrolled in the Berklee College Of Music before moving to New York to test his skills at Atlantic Records. It was at Atlantic, working with the legendary team of Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, that Mardin made his mark.

Arif Mardin was instrumental in crafting some of Atlantic's biggest hits, including Aretha Franklin's soul smash "Respect." He produced Number One singles for The Young Rascals and Average White Band.

Boundaries never limited Mardin. He collaborated with everyone from Willie Nelson and John Prine to Brook Benton and Bette Midler, as well as Barbra Streisand, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Phil Collins, Anita Baker and George Benson. He also produced jazz for Dianne Reeves and Herbie Mann, and even crossed over into television, film and Broadway.

Mardin retired from Atlantic Records in 2001, but re-emerged as an executive with EMI's Blue Note label, where he co-produced Norah Jones' Grammy-winning debut album Come Away With Me. During his 40 years in the music business, Mardin earned 11 Grammy Awards and more than 50 gold or platinum albums. He was inducted into the Recording Academy's Hall of Fame in 1990.

Famed producer and arranger Arif Mardin died of cancer June 25 in New York. He was 74.

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