Buddy Arnold, jazz saxophonist who co-founded a major music industry treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction, died Sunday, Nov. 9, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications resulting from open heart surgery. He was 77.
He was a co-founder of the Musicians’ Assistance Program, an org helping music industry members to receive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction regardless of their ability to pay. It quickly became one of the music industry’s most prominent charities.
Bronx native began playing saxophone at 9. By 16, he was on the road as a sideman. After serving in the Army during WWII, he joined the Buddy Rich Big Band on a West Coast tour and made his first recording, performing on a Mercury Records release by Gene Williams and the Junior Thornhill Band.
He became addicted to heroin and was sent to prison in 1958 after he was convicted of attempted burglary. Pardoned in 1960, he went on to play with the Tommy Dorsey Band and toured with Stan Kenton. He recorded four albums for Capitol Records.
But as the big band era waned, Arnold again began using drugs and, in 1981, was sentenced to seven years at San Quentin for writing prescriptions and impersonating a doctor.
After his release from prison, he and wife Carole Fields founded MAP in their living room in 1992. Org claims it has helped more than 1,500 musicians with addiction.
Arnold is survived by his wife, a son from a previous marriage and a sister.