Grammy-winning saxophonist David Sanborn is dead at 78

 May 14, 2024

David Sanborn, a six-time Grammy-winning saxophonist who worked with greats including Stevie Wonder, has died, ABC News reported. The 78-year-old had been in a prolonged battle with prostate cancer. 

Representatives for Sanborn confirmed that the musician died Sunday with a post to his Facebook page. "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," the post said.

"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," the post continued.

A Storied Career

Sanborn worked with some of the greats during a career that spanned decades and genres. He was best known as a jazz musician after experiencing success with his first album, "Taking Off."

His 1975 release made it to the Billboard Jazz Albums chart in the top 20 that year. Sanborn would later earn a Platinum album, several RIAA-certified Gold albums, and six Grammy Awards.

Although he got his start in jazz, Sandborn also collaborated with musicians across several other genres. He was versatile enough to play pop, R&B, and rock music with the greats of his time.

Some of those included Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Paul Simon, the Eagles, Steely Dan, Billy Joel, Carly Simon, James Brown, and Elton John and more. Sandborn's most celebrated collaborations were with top artists of his time who were trailblazers.

The saxophonist played on David Bowie's "Young Americans" album in 1974 and later went on to record four albums with James Taylor, including the single "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)." In 1992, Sandborn performed with Eric Clapton and Sting on their hit "It's Probably Me," which was featured on the soundtrack to the film "Lethal Weapon 3."

Cancer Takes Its Toll

Sandborn had scheduled stops on his "Experience The Magic" tour well into 2025, Fox News reported. However, it became apparent that the cancer was taking its toll on his body as he was forced to cancel shows for health reasons last month.

"For the last weeks I’ve been dealing with unbelievable pain in my spine that prohibited me from walking, let alone playing my horn," a statement from the saxophonist explained last month. "We were finally able to diagnose the issue as two stressed fractures in my spine," he added.

"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," Sandborn wrote.

This was a shock coming from the man who first picked up a saxophone at three years old to help develop his lungs fter being diagnosed with polio. Unfortunately, the prostate cancer and its treatments were too much to bear in his advanced age.

The music world is mourning the loss of one of the greats. Sandborn's talent and ability to play across genres made him a prolific performer and collaborator, and his contribution to music history will not soon be forgotten.

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