David Sanborn dead at 78

May 14, 2024 2:21 pm

[Source: CNN Entertainment]

David Sanborn, an influential saxophonist, who found success across the genres of pop, R&B, jazz and more, died Sunday.

He was 78.

“It is with sad and heavy hearts that we convey to you the loss of internationally renowned, 6 time Grammy Award-winning, saxophonist, David Sanborn,” reads a statement on his social media accounts.

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“Mr. Sanborn passed Sunday afternoon, May 12th, after an extended battle with prostate cancer with complications.”

Sanborn’s publicist confirmed the accuracy of the post when reached by CNN.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, but continued performing until recently.

“Indeed he already had concerts scheduled into 2025,” the statement concluded.

“David Sanborn was a seminal figure in contemporary pop and jazz music. It has been said that he ‘put the saxophone back into Rock ’n Roll.’”

Born in Tampa, Florida, Sanborn grew up in Missouri. He began playing the saxophone as part of his recovery after contracting polio at age three, according to his website.

“By the age of 14, he was able to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton,” it states in his biography on the site. “Dave went on to study music at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa where he played and studied with the great saxophonist JR Monterose.”

Sanborn went on to join the Butterfield Blues Band and played Woodstock with Paul Butterfield. His career took off and the saxophone player toured with Stevie Wonder, recording on Wonder’s “Talking Book” album, playing with The Rolling Stones, and touring with David Bowie.

Sanborn’s solo on Bowie’s “Young Americans” was a stand out.

His other collaborators include Paul Simon and James Taylor.

He released his debut solo album, “Taking Off,” in 1975. His sophomore album, “Hideaway,” followed four years later.

Sanborn’s other albums featured contributions from Luther Vandross, Christian McBride, Eric Clapton and more.

“All I Need Is You” won him his first Grammy Award for best R&B instrumental performance in 1981.

He would go on to win five more Grammys, earn eight gold albums, one platinum album and tour successfully for decades.

In March 2024, Sanborn was honored in St. Louis for his lifetime achievement in jazz.

“I’m so glad I am alive to receive this,” Sanborn said at the time. “I am deeply grateful and amazingly honored to receive this award in my hometown of St. Louis.”