Mardin studied economics at Istanbul University and the London School of Economics. In the 1950s, the enthusiastic jazz musicians Mardin Dizzy Gillespie and arranger Quincy Jones got to know. With the help of a music scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he went to the USA. After his studies he started to work as an assistant to Nesuhi Ertegun for the U.S. record label Atlantic Records. Atlantic profiled at this time, especially with the publication of African- American music such as jazz and soul. Later Mardin house producer and vice-president of the label. In the 60s, he was instrumental in the success of Soul singer Aretha Franklin and other musicians involved, for example, Stephen Stills. In his more than 30 - year career, he was able to win the Grammy twelve times. Arif Mardin arranged and produced artists such as Bette Midler, Norah Jones, Diana Ross, The Manhattan Transfer, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Chaka Khan and the Average White Band. As a guest producer he participated in Queens album Hot Space. As the producer of the Bee Gees unsuccessful then he recommended this in 1975, an octave higher to sing, to which the success stopped again.
Mardin died of cancer and was buried in his hometown of Istanbul. He left behind his wife Latife, his two daughters Julie and Nazan and his son Joe Yusuf, who is also involved as a producer.