Brooks Arthur, the multiple Grammy Award-winning record producer and engineer who worked on hits by Leiber and Stoller, The Grateful Dead, Burt Bacharach, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison and many more, died Sunday (Oct. 9).
Born Arnold Brodsky in New York City back in 1936, the music man cut his teeth in the industry while still in high school, scoring a part-time job in the Decca Records mailroom. From there, he could see how the entire business in action.
Several years later, he was tapped by Aldon Music as a songwriter and demo singer, along with the likes of Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. There, he wrote “At the Edge of Tears,” recorded by a young Tony Orlando, who would introduce Arthur to his engineering mentor.
The hits would roll on at Associated Studios, where Arthur engineered cuts for Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, the Raindrops’ “What A Guy,” the Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back” and more.
As his reputation grew, so too did his resume. At Mirasound, he engineered recordings for Leiber and Stoller, and was behind the boards for many classic songs of the era, from Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love”, the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack”, “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys, and Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child.” He’s become known as the chief architect of New York’s “girl group” sound.
Arthur caught the attention of Phil Ramone, who brought the engineer over to his A&R Studios to work on recordings by Lovin’ Spoonful, and several Van Morrison standards, including “Brown Eyed Girl” on which he sang backup vocals. He also engineered more than a dozen Neil Diamond songs including “Cherry Cherry,” “Kentucky Woman” and the enduring “Sweet Caroline.”
When Ramone got his man, he took out full-page ads in Billboard and Cash Box magazines announcing, “Brooks Arthur has a new home: A & R.”
The first of his three Grammys came in the 1970s, for Arthur’s production and engineering work on Janis Ian’s “Between the Lines” LP.
He was music supervisor on all three Karate Kid films, which have enjoyed a renaissance following the Cobra Kai series on Netflix. Arthur received an Oscar nomination for “Glory of Love” from The Karate Kid II, one of his 20 career Grammy nods.
Arthur took the plunge and founded his own recording studios, first Century Sound (Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Evie Sands), and lead his own band, Brooks Arthur Ensemble. Later, Arthur would operate 914 Studios in Rockland County, a space where Bruce Springsteen recorded his debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle and much of Born to Run.
During his decades-long music career, Arthur worked with a who’s who of recorded music, from Ashford & Simpson to Art Garfunkel, Bette Midler, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Deborah Harry, Debbie Boone, Dusty Springfield, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Lee Lewis, Liza Minnelli and many others.
A move to Los Angeles was a fruitful one, as Arthur pivoted to Tinseltown and film productions, working with the likes of comedy stars Robin Williams and Adam Sandler, and serving as music supervisor for many of Sandler’s films including The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy, Click, Fifty First Dates and Blended.
Arthur found the time to recount his life and journey in music for an autobiography, which is currently being edited, reps say.
In a tribute posted to social media, Sandler describes the late studio professional as “a true mensch.”
He tweeted, “Nobody like that man on the planet. Pure kindness. Loving. Giving. Creative. Patient. Soulful. Super human being. A true mensch. Engineered and produced some of the greatest songs of our time. Loved him like family. Beyond a buddy to me and so many.”
Arthur “was a special, lovely man,” tweeted comedy actor Rob Schneider. “No more wandering, you’re home.”
Recording artist Carole Bayer Sager added, “Brooks Arthur, great loss, great record producer for many-helped me find my voice.”
Arthur is survived by his wife Marilyn, their daughters Jill Arthur Posner and Jacki Arthur Eisenberg, their husbands, Ari and Jerry, respectively, and four grandchildren, Maxwell Abish, Benjamin Posner, Natalie Posner and Jade Eisenberg, and a sister Rochelle Kaplan.
The funeral is set for midday on Sunday (Oct. 16) at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in Simi Valley. Arthur’s family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Chabad.org or the American Jewish World Service.