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Grammy Award-winning saxophonist David Sanborn dies aged 78 after six-year battle with cancer

David Sanborn has died at the age of 78.

The Grammy Award-winning saxophonist had spent his career playing with the likes of music legends such as Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, and David Bowie but was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and even though he had planned to continue performing, he succumbed to the disease on Sunday (12.05.24) afternoon.

A statement posted on his Instagram read: “It is with sad and heavy hearts that we convey to you the loss of internationally renowned, six-time Grammy Award-winning, saxophonist, David Sanborn. Mr. Sanborn passed Sunday afternoon, May 12th, after an extended battle with prostate cancer with complications.

“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.”

David contracted polio in his youth and began playing the saxophone after a medic suggested that it could strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing and by the late 1960s, he had joined The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

He performed with them at the Woodstock music festival, but later carved out a career on the jazz scene, releasing 26 solo albums between 1975 and 2015.

The statement remembered David – who is survived by his wife Alice Soyer, a fellow performer – as a “seminal figure” in his field.

It concluded “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.”

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