Childhood & Early Life
Kenny G was born as Kenneth Bruce Gorelick to Jewish parents in the Seattle’s Seward Park area.
His association with the saxophone dates back to the time when he was ten years old. Impressed by hearing someone play the instrument at The Ed Sullivan Show, he resolved to learn to play the device.
He took classes on how to play the saxophone from a local trumpeter Gerald Pfister. Furthermore, he imitated the records of George Washington Jr. Buffet Crampon alto was the first saxophone that he laid hands on.
Academically, he attained his formal education from a couple of schools including, Whitworth Elementary School, Sharples Junior High School and Franklin High School.
It was while at school that he first tried to get himself a seat in a jazz band but in vain. However, he did not give up and the following year successfully gained himself a seat. Meanwhile, for a year, he took private lessons on the saxophone and clarinet from Johnny Jessen.
Continue Reading Below
He was still in high school when he first landed himself a job as a sideman for Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973. He collaborated with White for several performances. It was around this time that he changed his name to Kenny G.
While pursuing his professional stint as a saxophonist, he did not give up on his education either and enrolled at the University of Washington, Seattle, for a major in accounting. He graduated from the university with a magna cum laude.
In addition to playing with White, he associated himself with the funk band, ‘Cold, Bold & Together’ before making it to as the member of The Jeff Lorber Fusion. He recorded an album with the group and also convoyed with them on tour.
In 1982, impressed by his version of the ABBA track ‘Dancing Queen’ president Clive Davis signed him as a solo artist with Arista Records in 1982. Same year, he released his debut self-titled album, ‘Kenny G’. The album struck a perfect balance between jazz and R&B and was well received by the critics.
The following year, he released his second album, ‘G Force’. The album was well received and gained a platinum status at the box office. Two years later, he came up with his third studio album, ‘Gravity’ which emulated the success of its predecessors. Both his second and third studio albums achieved platinum status in United States.
While the success of his first three albums did much to establish his reputation, it was his fourth album, ‘Duotones’ which made him an international star icon. The album sold more than 5 million copies in US alone. He was renowned for his novel renditions of music.
The super successful career brought in offers from celebrated musicians from around the globe. He participated with big stars, including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Natalie Cole. What’s more, he also performed with Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach and Frank Sinatra.
The early influence of George Washington Jr had a compelling effect on his music and career. Most of his albums were classified as smooth jazz. His compositions dominated the music industry by and large.
In 1992, he came up with his sixth studio album, ‘Breathless’. The album was much appreciated both critically and commercially. It met with ‘breathless’ success, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide, of which 12 million sales were garnered in the U.S. alone. The album became the top selling instrumental album in history.
Continue Reading Below
Two years later, in 1994, he released his first holiday album titled, ‘Miracles’. The album went on to record a sales of more than 13 million copies, which made it the most successful Christmas album to date. It reached the number 1 position on the Billboard chart 200.
In 1996, he released the album ‘The Moment’. The album was a raving success and gained a platinum success at the US. In UK, it bagged the gold status
In 1997, he created history by playing the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone. Employing the circular breathing technique, he held the E flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds at the J&R Music World in New York City. This earned him a place at the Guinness Book of World Records.
Same year, his song, ‘Havana’ from the 1996 released album, ‘The Moment’ was remixed by DJs Todd Terry and Tony Moran and released promotionally to dance clubs in the U.S. The mixes were so much so admired by the audience that they gained the No.1 status on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart in April 1997.
Year 1999 witnessed the release of his album, ‘Classics in the Key of G’. The album was credited with much appreciation. Same year, his single, ‘What a Wonderful World’ was widely panned by the critics for overdubbing Louis Armstrong’s classic recording.
In 2000, upon receiving an invite, he performed at the White House for state governors and members of the Clinton Cabinet.
After receiving much success commercially in the genre of smooth jazz, he tried to diversify his musical aspirations. Thus in 2002, he came up with the album, ‘Paradise’ which had tropical sounds. In 2008, he came with a Latin beat album, ‘Rhythm and Romance’.
In 2009, he teamed up with the band, Weezer in an AOL promotion of their album, Raditude. The following year, he collaborated with Robie Thicke and Babyface for the R&B driven album, ‘Heart and Soul’, his thirteenth studio album. The album peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Jazz chart
In 2011, he made quite a number of appearances, starting with Super Bowl XLV ad for Audi, ‘Release the Hounds’. Further, he starred in the short film, which detailed his time as Head of Riot Suppression for the Luxury Prison. Later, he was part of the star cast in Katy Perry’s music video, ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.). he even appeared in an episode of Saturday Night Live.
Continue Reading Below
Other than coming up with music albums and accompanying significant musicians, he is also a radio personality and can be heard every morning along with Sandy Kovach on WLOQ in Orlando, Florida.