A longtime house producer and arranger with Atlantic Records, the versatile Arif Mardin assisted in the creation of many of the classic pop and jazz recordings of his era, enjoying perhaps his greatest success in collaboration with Aretha Franklin. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 15, 1932, Mardin studied at Istanbul University and the London School of Economics while pursuing music as a hobby. In 1956, however, he met Dizzy Gillespie on the trumpeter's tour of Turkey, and was inspired to take up music as a profession. He won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music and graduated in 1961, signing on with Atlantic two years later as an assistant to Nesuhi Ertegun. He soon became a studio manager and then a house producer and arranger. Mardin's earliest production duties focused on projects with jazz artists including Sonny Stitt, Freddie Hubbard, Mose Allison, and Eddie Harris, but his stock truly began to rise in the wake of Franklin's 1967 arrival on the label roster. In conjunction with the legendary producer Jerry Wexler and engineer Tom Dowd, Mardin set the stage for the singer's artistic and commercial breakthrough, arranging Franklin's landmark 1967 LP I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and its classic single "Respect"; another Franklin watershed, Lady Soul, followed from the same studio team a year later.