Buddy Arnold

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Born Arnold Buddy Grishaver, this versatile reed player flipped parts of his name around and began working professionally in the early '40s with leaders such as Joe Marsala and Georgie Auld. From 1944…
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Born Arnold Buddy Grishaver, this versatile reed player flipped parts of his name around and began working professionally in the early '40s with leaders such as Joe Marsala and Georgie Auld. From 1944 through 1946, it was Army time, and he blew only for the red, white, and blue. After his discharge, Arnold went to work for bandleader Herbie Fields, then joined the combo of hot-headed super-drummer Buddy Rich. Perhaps the latter bandleader's famed mistreatment of his sidemen prompted Arnold to look into other musical employment possibilities, as he began taking courses in music and economics at Columbia University beginning in the late '40s. He continued gigging with leader and composer George Williams and pianist Claude Thornhill before dropping out of music entirely for a year-and-a-half.

In 1951, Arnold began opening his saxophone cases again, going on tour with clarinetist

Buddy DeFranco's orchestra. After this came jobs with Jerry Wald, Tex Beneke, Elliot Lawrence, Stan Kenton, and jazz-pop arranger and composer Neil Hefti. In 1956, Arnold finally got a chance to step into the limelight, putting out his first album as a leader for ABC-Paramount. Entitled Wailing, this effort was well-received by jazz fans who liked Arnold's appetizing tone, echoing players such as Zoot Sims combined with inventive flavoring right out of the Sonny Rollins kitchen. Despite this promising debut and further recordings for the same label alongside Phil Sunkel, Arnold opted out of a high profile career in jazz. More accurately, he was opted out by the law. Like many jazzmen, Arnold struggled with drug addiction and in 1958 he was sent to prison for attempted burglary. He returned to society in 1960 and played in with Tommy Dorsey and toured with Stan Kenton. His drug troubles returned in the early '80s, resulting in a prison sentence that kept him out of circulation for most of the decade. Shortly after his release, Arnold founded the Musicians' Assistance Program, which offered help to musicians with drug problems. In the early '90s he showed up on an album by swing revival band Love Jones, providing a touch of authenticity that is quite rare on these sorts of recordings. After many ups and downs, Arnold passed away on November 9, 2003. He was 91.