David Sanborn was born July 30, 1945 in Florida. He suffered from polio as a child and at his doctor’s recommendation, Sanborn started playing the saxophone as a way to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and to improve his breathing.
Little did he know that this exercise would lead to a lifelong career as an alto saxophonist. Growing up in Missouri, Sanborn was inspired by great Chicago blues artists. While still a teenager, he had the opportunity to play with some of these great musicians, including Albert King and Little Milton. By the time he was 18, Sanborn knew that he wanted a career in music.He studied music for a year at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa to continue his studies.
By the age of 20, Sanborn was married with a child. Shortly after, he moved to California, where he spent five years playing with the Butterfield Blues Band. The break-up of the band led to tours with Stevie Wonder and David Bowie. Sanborn also played with many others, including The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and James Taylor.
In 1975, Sanborn released his first solo album, Taking Off. While he continued on with solo work and produced many more albums, Sanborn also began to get into the film and TV industry in the 1980s, where has worked as a composer, a musician, an actor and a host. Though his career has spanned over four decades, Sanborn shows no signs of slowing down. He continues to tour and perform in typical venues as well as at festivals, clubs and even on cruises.
David Sanborn is known for his passionate and emotional interpretations of music. His style is hard to define as it has developed from a variety of different musical experiences.Sanborn classifies his style as being mainly a blues and R&B combination, but his background in jazz also influences his playing. He also blends these styles into pop performances. Thisversatility has allowed Sanborn to cross bridges into different styles of music that might not otherwise have been possible had he focussed only on one of these areas.
Sanborn uses a Selmer Mark VI Alto saxophone with a modified Dukoff D8 metal mouthpiece. He uses Vandoren V16 reeds.
In addition to his 24 solo albums, ongoing world-wide performances, soundtracks, movie appearances and the like, Sanborn has been awarded three Grammy Awards (Voyeur in 1981, Double Vision in 1986 and Close Up in 1988). Considered by many to be the most commercially successful amoung American saxophonists he was inducted onto the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2004.