Alan Arkin Leaves Us - With Himself

Alan Arkin Leaves Us - With Himself

Recently, Takamine lost a dear friend with the passing of the multifaceted and amazingly talented Alan Arkin – a loss that has left us deeply saddened and more than a little sentimental. We came to know Alan when he appeared in a 1997 Takamine print-ad with legendary musician John Scofield, and you may well wonder how Alan ended up in that ad.

Scofield’s now-essential 1996 all-acoustic album Quiet had just been released. It featured him playing his Takamine NP65C (similar to the current P3FCN). We asked John to be the artist focus of an installment of Takamine’s classic "Think Acoustic - Live Electric - Play Takamine" ad series, and it was Scofield who suggested his guitar-playing neighbor, Alan Arkin, as a possible addition to the mix. Who would say no to that?

And so it was that John Scofield and Alan Arkin would find themselves jamming away at the Scofield dining-room table as photographer Jeff Sacks framed them in the living room archway and clicked away, making for arguably the coolest/warmest Takamine ad ever produced. Thus, the connection between Alan Arkin and Takamine was made, and for the following 26 years it would be faithfully maintained.

It is perhaps more commonly known now than before that Alan’s career in the entertainment business began not as an actor but as a member of the Tarriers, a folk trio who scored a hit with “The Banana Boat Song / Day O”, a later version of which would become Harry Belafonte’s signature song.

And even though the acting bug would eventually steal him away from the burgeoning late '50s NYC folk scene, it was Alan’s musical side that remained at the heart of his essence and was the basis of our longstanding relationship. In those 26 years, hundreds of emails would be exchanged, mostly discussing or sharing music, seldom if ever about acting, almost always crafted for a laugh. Alan's observations ranged from the transcendent nature of Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto to the only slightly-less-blissful Pachelbel Canon, performed by a rubber chicken on YouTube.

Alan loved guitar, particularly nylon string models, and owned a TC135SC. But for at least the last 15 years or so, Alan’s instrument of choice was the ukulele (or "yuke" as he referred to it), and one of his favorite pastimes was recording and sharing uke/vocal renditions of one song or another. One email might contain a performance of an American songbook classic like "As Time Goes By", the next, an original freewheeling stream-of-conscious nugget like the more recently-submitted "Evidence at My Insanity Trial" where his grumpily-astute observations of the selfie generation are put to song... sort of.

Alan was a warm, caring, wickedly intelligent sweetheart of a man with an unencumbered, truth-seeking spirituality that he regularly maintained by “meditating my ass off." He had a deep appreciation for sincerity and truth, and a finely-tuned BS detector. And of course, a unique, God-given gift for finding humor in just about everything.

In his obit, his family referred to him as a force of nature. That comes close to describing the void Alan’s physical absence leaves. But from the loving gift of his body of work, Alan Arkin leaves with us his beloved spirit and essence - forever. Pretty neat trick, Alan. See you next time around.

Mark S.

Alan Arkin's passing leaves us deeply saddened. His connection with Takamine for 26 years, including that iconic ad with John Scofield, will be cherished. May his legacy inspire generations to come. Rest in peace. Cheers from best concrete contractor in Irving.

Tim T.

RIP Alan. You were a great actor and as I’ve learned, a very good guitarist as well. You will be missed.

Richard Thornton

I went to CWRU in the 1970s, majoring in theater. The theater was named after Nadine Miles who taught at CWRU before my time there. The story goes that in the 1950s she needed a guy for a play that she was directing in NYC, who could act and play guitar. She hired Alan; apparently it was his first professional acting role. Later Nadine commented in her dairy that Alan Atkin would never be an actor!  I guess she was wrong!! RIP Alan and Nadine!