Rip David Sanborn (1945-2024)

29th May 2024 · 1970s, 1974, 2020s, 2024, Music, Soul

I first heard his name when Gerry Rafferty released Baker Street. Everyone knew who played that sax solo. Almost as many knew that the same guy played the two sax solos on Bowie’s Young Americans.

This video clip has shocking sound, especially the almost inaudible bass, and Bowie sings around the melody quite a bit, but even that can’t spoil the squealing sax.

There’s a party vibe to the whole thing with that big bunch of backing singers, including Luther Vandross, though you lose the magnificent drama of that “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me break down and cry” bit, with the pause and the drums that come back in.

Never mind. You can dig the studio recording out and play it anytime. But you don’t often get to see the sax man doing his thing like this. And, as ever, you don’t get to find out lots of interesting stuff about people til you read their obit.

Like the fact that Sanborn suffered from childhood polo and took up the sax to strengthen his respiration, taking to it so swiftly that he was playing in clubs with Albert King and Little Milton when he was only 14 (but looking more like a ten-year-old with his baby face and withered arm).

Nor did I know he played at Woodstock with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1969, as well as on Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book and Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run and Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years, as well as records by The Eagles, the Stones, Steely Dan, James Taylor and Carly Simon.

RIP David Sanborn (1945-2024)