David Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida on 30 July 1945 and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the most influential saxophonist of the last 30 years in pop, R&B, jazz, and rock. A highly regarded session player from the mid-70s on, today, he is primarily associated with the “smooth jazz” genre.
David contracted polio at age 3 and was encouraged to learn a wind instrument as part of his physical therapy. He chose the saxophone. While still a teenager in St. Louis, he played with many blues legends like Albert King and Little Milton.
He attended Northwestern University for a year, but encouraged by a friend who was in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he went to San Francisco for a few weeks in 1967. He soon moved to San Francisco and joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. David recorded with them and also played at the Woodstock Festival.
In the early 1970s, he spent two years working with Stevie Wonder, toured with David Bowie on his Diamond Dogs tour and worked with Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones. Sanborn launched his solo career in 1975 with the release of Taking Off. His breakthrough albums were 1980’s Hideaway and 1981’s Voyeur, which garnered a Grammy Award. Since then, he has released numerous successful solo albums.
His association with Eric Clapton dates back to the 1980s. He first worked with Eric in August 1983 on sessions for Roger Water’s The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking. The two worked together again in 1986 when they recorded the Lethal Weapon soundtrack. (Michael Kamen and Henry Spinetti also worked on the project). Since then, the men scored all four films. In addition to soundtrack work, he can be heard on the Eric’s album Journeyman.
During the early 1990s, Sanborn hosted a U.S. television show, Night Music, on which Clapton was a guest. In 1997, they toured together as Legends with Joe Sample, Marcus Miller, and Steve Gadd. On 1 January 1999, Eric appeared on David’s ABC-TV special, After New Year’s Eve. Marcus Miller and Steve Gadd were on the show as well. David guested at Eric’s concert to benefit the Crossroads Centre, Antigua on 30 June 1999 at Madison Square Garden.