Brooks Arthur, Grammy-Winning Producer and ‘Karate Kid’ Music Supervisor, Dies at 86

Brooks Arthur, the Grammy-winning record producer, engineer and music supervisor behind films such as “The Karate Kid,” died on Oct. 9. He was 86.

Arthur was a highly respected producer who engineered hits such as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” on which he sang backup. Throughout his career, he worked with artists including the Grateful Dead, Art Garfunkel, Burt Bacharach, Dusty Springfield, Liza Minnelli and Peggy Lee, and he gathered 20 Grammy nominations — including three wins — as well as an Oscar nod for “Glory of Love” from “The Karate Kid II.”

Arthur began a 29-year relationship with Adam Sandler after producing his Grammy-nominated comedy hit “The Chanukah Song.” He went on to produce all of Sandler’s comedy albums from “They’re Gonna Laugh at You” through “Shh… Don’t Tell” and served as music supervisor for the majority of his films, from “Grown Ups” to “The Waterboy” to “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.” Arthur also co-wrote and co-produced the animated holiday movie musical “Eight Crazy Nights” and produced the score for “The Wedding Singer.”

In a tribute posted to Instagram, Sandler wrote of Arthur, “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.”

Judd Apatow added in the comments, “The greatest, kindest man. Endlessly talented. His credits are stunning. Always in a great mood. When you saw him your day always got better and sunnier. Just the other day I saw a Robin Williams album and on the back it said produced by Brooks. He did so many remarkable things in his life. We went to see Van Morrison and he was so excited to see Brooks because he was the engineer on Astral Weeks! He was the ringleader of the most amazing comedy albums with Adam. And his warm spirit inspired a ton of characters and sketches. I will miss him so much. He made the world a much better place.”

Arthur’s comedy footprint also extended to producing albums for Norm Macdonald and the Grammy-winning “Live From the Met” by Robin Williams.

Born in Brooklyn as Arnold Brosdky, aspiring crooner Arthur would travel to Manhattan weekly for singing lessons. In high school, he began his music industry career as a part-timer in the Decca Records mailroom.

Arthur told Variety in 2016 that he began working at Decca in the hope he would be discovered as a singer, by an A&R or record producer. “I wanted to be the next Eddie Fisher, then I started engineering demos for my friends and I would have bet the store I would never become an engineer with hundreds of hits,” he said. “But I became the Eddie Fisher of audio engineers.”

In his early years, Arthur recorded several singles under the names Art Barrett and Arnie Blaine, as well as two albums of classical jazz-pop for Verve as the Brooks Arthur Ensemble in 1966 and ’69, earning a Grammy nomination for his cover of “MacArthur Park.” He became signed to Don Kirshner and Al Nevins’ top publishing company Aldon Music as demo singer and songwriter along with Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. There, Broooks’ own songs were recorded by Tony Orlando, Erna Franklin, the Four Coins and Joanie Sommers.

Later, at Associated Studios, Arthur engineered numerous hits for Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, as well as “What A Guy” by the Raindrops and “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. Working at Mirasound, he became a key player behind the girl group boom of the 1960s, engineering hits such as the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love” and the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack.”

In the 1970s, Arthur became a devout Jew after “Karate Kid” producer Jerry Weintraub introduced him to the Chabad.

He opened up his own music studio, Century Sound, where his clients included Diamond, Morrison, Evie Sands and his own band, Brooks Arthur Ensemble. Later on, he founded 914 Studios, where Bruce Springsteen recorded his debut album “Greetings From Asbury Park,” “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” and much of his landmark LP “Born to Run.”

Arthur produced and appeared in the 2016 documentary “Bang! The Bert Berns Story,” about his friend and the legendary songwriter behind “Twist and Shout” and “Piece of My Heart.”

Before his death, Arthur completed a memoir about his life in the music and film industries, including behind-the-scenes studio stories and recording insights. The book is currently being edited.

Arthur is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marilyn, their daughters Jill Arthur Posner and Jacki Arthur Eisenberg, and their respective husbands Ari and Jerry. He also leaves behind a sister, Rochelle Kaplan, and four grandchildren, Benjamin and Natalie Posner, Maxwell Abish and Jade Eisenberg.

Arthur’s funeral will take place Oct. 16 at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks.

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