Arnold Buddy Grishaver, a saxophonist who co-founded a unique drug and alcohol treatment program, died on Nov. 9 of complications from open heart surgery. He was 77.
Arnold learned how to play the saxophone when he was only nine years old. At 16, he was performing at the Apollo Theater with his idol, tenor saxophonist George Auld. During World War II, Arnold led an Army band, then toured with the Buddy Rich Big Band before moving to New York to study music and economics at Columbia University.
Arnold’s musical success was hindered in the 1950s by his addiction to heroin and pills, an addiction that would lead to 34 narcotic arrests, and a conviction for attempted burglary for which he served two years in prison. After he was pardoned, Arnold recorded four albums with Capitol Records and played with the Tommy Dorsey Band — until drugs once again took over his life. He spent the 1980s in San Quentin for writing prescriptions and impersonating a doctor.
In 1992, Arnold and his wife, Carole Fields, created the Musicians’ Assistance Program, an organization that has treated 1,500 people working in the music industry for drug and alcohol addiction. The Recording Industry Association of America donated $2 million to the program in 1996.