Grammy Award-Winning Saxophonist David Sanborn, Known for Playing on Hundreds of Albums, Passes Away at Age 78

Grammy-winning saxophonist David Sanborn dies at 78

NEW YORK — David Sanborn, the Grammy-winning saxophonist known for his lively solos on hits such as David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” has passed away at the age of 78. Sanborn, who enjoyed a highly successful recording career as a performer of melodic, contemporary jazz, died in Tarrytown, New York, due to complications from prostate cancer.

Sanborn’s legacy in the music world is profound, with pianist Bob James expressing deep sadness over the loss. Collaborating with Sanborn on the Grammy-winning “Double Vision” album, James highlighted Sanborn’s passion and intensity in every note he played, making ordinary tunes extraordinary.

Known for his versatility and prolific output, Sanborn achieved rare fame and popularity for a saxophone player. He released eight gold albums and one platinum album, frequently performed with the “Late Night With David Letterman” band, and even co-hosted the show “Night Music” alongside appearances by music legends like Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, and Lou Reed.

In an interview with DownBeat magazine in 2017, Sanborn emphasized the transformative nature of jazz and the importance of pushing musical boundaries. His early musical journey began in Tampa, Florida, where he took up the saxophone to strengthen his lungs after a severe bout with polio. By his mid-teens, Sanborn was already performing with blues greats Albert King and Little Milton, eventually joining the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and playing at the iconic Woodstock festival in 1969.

Throughout the 1970s and beyond, Sanborn remained one of the busiest musicians in the industry, working as a session player for top artists like Bowie, Taylor, the Rolling Stones, and Stevie Wonder. With over 20 solo albums, including Grammy winners “Straight to the Heart” and “Double Vision,” Sanborn continued to tour extensively even after his cancer diagnosis in 2018, with plans for upcoming shows in the following year.

David Sanborn’s contributions to the world of music will be remembered through his soulful saxophone melodies and passionate performances, leaving a lasting impact on generations of listeners and fellow musicians.

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