David Sanborn, Grammy-winning saxophonist, dead at 78

on May13
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Six-time Grammy award-winning saxophonist, David Sanborn, has died at the age of 78, Fox News Digital confirmed.

Sanborn’s representative confirmed that the musician was in Tarrytown, New York, when he died on Sunday, May 12.

On Monday, David’s X account, formerly known as Twitter, shared that he died after an “extended battle with prostate cancer with complications.” 

David Sanborn dead 78

Grammy-winning saxophonist David Sanborn has died at 78. (Getty Images)

“Mr. Sanborn had been dealing with prostate cancer since 2018, but had been able to maintain his normal schedule of concerts until just recently. Indeed he already had concerts scheduled into 2025,” his official account wrote.

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Another post said, “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.’”

The Jazz musician had a successful career, playing alongside Stevie Wonder and David Bowie. One of his most popular hits was on Bowie’s 1975 “Young Americans.”

David Sanborn in 1982

Portrait of jazz musician David Sanborn in 1982. (Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

David was also a solo musician and released 25 albums during his multi-decade run. Per his website, eight of those albums went gold, and one went platinum. Sanborn’s music typically stayed in the instrumental pop, R&B and traditional jazz genres.

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Sanborn first picked up a saxophone long before he entered high school and was inspired by the jazz musicians in Chicago, near his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. David was diagnosed with polio when he was three-years-old and was suggested to play the saxophone as a form of therapy.

Sanborn studied music at Northwestern University and the University of Iowa.

David Sanborn playing the saxophone

David Sanborn was recommended to play the saxophone at age 3 after he was diagnosed with polio. (Herb Snitzer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

After college, Sanborn headed for California and joined the Butterfield Blues Band. He went on to play at Woodstock with Paul Butterfield.

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Dave also had a television show from 1988 to 1990 called “Night Music.” This show featured famed jazz musicians, such as Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and Billie Holiday. 

He also hosted the “After New Year’s Eve” television special and had a radio program, “The Jazz Show with David Sanborn,” that was on the air during the 1980s and ’90s.

David Sanborn onstage

David Sanborn released 25 solo albums during his multi-decade career. (Vallery Jean/FilmMagic)

Sanborn was planning to continue to play music for his fans during his “Experience The Magic” tour that had dates through 2025. 

According to Variety, David announced last month that he needed to cancel shows due to his health.

“For the last weeks I’ve been dealing with unbelievable pain in my spine that prohibited me from walking, let alone playing my horn,” Sanborn wrote in a statement at the time. 

David Sanborn smiling

David Sanborn was expected to play his “Experience the Magic” tour through 2025. (Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

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He continued, “We were finally able to diagnose the issue as two stressed fractures in my spine. Last week I underwent an unexpected spinal surgery. The doctors assure me the procedure was a success, but recovery is 6 to 8 weeks of doing nothing, including not playing my horn.”



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