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Buddy Arnold Dies

Buddy Arnold, a saxophonist who played as a sideman in Stan Kenton and Tommy Dorsey’s bands and who co-founded the Musician’s Assistance Program, died November 9 of complications from open-heart surgery. He was 77.

Born Arnold Buddy Grishaver, in the Bronx, N.Y., he began playing saxophone at nine. By 16 he was a professional sideman performing at Harlem’s Apollo Theater with his idol, former Benny Goodman tenor saxophonist George Auld.

Following his World War II Army service, Arnold joined drummer Buddy Rich’s and toured the West Coast. Arnold later recorded for pianist Claude “Junior” Thornhill for Mercury Records. In the 1960s he had the opportunity to perform and record with Stan Kenton.

But Arnold’s greatest achievement had little to do with his saxophone chops.

Running parallel to Arnold’s musical success was his addiction to heroin and pills, which began in 1950. The consequences of his addiction reached their apex in 1981 when he was sentenced to seven years in San Quentin for writing prescriptions and impersonating a doctor. Following his release from prison four months later due to a computer error, Arnold remained clean. A decade later, he and his wife Carole Fields co-founded the Musician’s Assistance Program (MAP), which provides musicians and other members of the music industry with assistance in receiving treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. While the program was originally intended to offer assistance to former sidemen and musicians who never became household names, the program’s services have since expanded to include all music industry professionals. And with help from a special grant MAP received from the RIAA in 1996, its system of treatment programs extends throughout the entire country. Since its creation, the organization has served more than 1,500 people, and is considered to be one of the music industry’s most prominent charities.

Buddy Arnold is survived by his wife; his son, and a sister.

To learn more about the Musician’s Assistance Program or to make a donation, visit their Web site

Originally Published