Kenny G
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Kenny G

Kenny G
Kenny G in May 2013
Kenny G in May 2013
Background information
Kenneth Bruce Gorelick
Kenny G
Born (1956-06-05) June 5, 1956 (age 64)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • 1973-1982 (group)

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5, 1956), known professionally as Kenny G, is an American jazz saxophonist. His 1986 album, Duotones, brought him commercial success.[1] Kenny G is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with global sales totaling more than 75 million records.[2]

Early life

Kenny G was born in Seattle, Washington. His mother was from Saskatchewan, Canada. He came into contact with the saxophone when he heard a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.[1] He started playing saxophone, a Buffet Crampon alto, in 1966 when he was 10 years old.[3]

Kenny G attended Whitworth Elementary School, Sharples Junior High School, Franklin High School, and the University of Washington, all in his home city of Seattle. When he entered high school he failed at his first attempt to get into the jazz band but auditioned again the following year and earned first chair.[4][5] His Franklin High School classmate Robert Damper (piano, keyboards) plays in his band.[6][7] In addition to his studies while in high school, he took private lessons on the saxophone and clarinet from Johnny Jessen, once a week for a year.

He was also on his high school golf team. He has been a fan of the sport since his elder brother, Brian Gorelick, introduced him to it when he was ten.[5]


Early career

Kenny G's career started with a job as a sideman for Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra in 1973; he was 17 and still in high school.[8][9] He continued to play professionally while studying for a major in accounting at the University of Washington in Seattle, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa[10] and magna cum laude.[8][11] He played with the funk band Cold, Bold and Together[11] before becoming a credited member of The Jeff Lorber Fusion.[9] He began his solo career after his period with Lorber.[9]

1980s: Early success and breakthrough with Duotones

Kenny G signed with Arista Records as a solo artist in 1982, after label president Clive Davis heard his rendition of ABBA's "Dancing Queen".[9] He released his self-titled first album with the help of The Jeff Lorber Fusion. The album received warm reviews from critics. He achieved success quite early on, with both G Force and Gravity, his second and third studio albums respectively, achieving platinum status in the United States. At that time, he collaborated with Kashif on many tracks, such as the single "Love on the Rise", which was released in 1985 and went on to chart. His fourth studio album, Duotones, sold over five million copies in the U.S. alone. It featured the songs "Songbird", with reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single "Don't Make Me Wait for Love", which featured vocals from Lenny Williams, charted at No. 15 on the Hot 100, and No. 2 on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1987. Kenny G worked in the mid-to-late 1980s with jazz and R&B artists such as George Benson, Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin. The 1987 hit-single "Love Power", a Dionne Warwick duet with Jeffrey Osborne that featured G as a guest saxophonist, peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 5 on R&B/Hip-Hop songs. His first live album, titled Kenny G Live, included popular songs, among which "Going Home" achieved great success in the People's Republic of China. Kenny G has collaborated with a wide variety of artists, such as Andrea Bocelli,[12]Aaron Neville, Toni Braxton, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince,[13]Natalie Cole,[14]Steve Miller,[15]Weezer, Dudley Moore, Lee Ritenour, The Rippingtons, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Frank Sinatra, Bebel Gilberto and Smokey Robinson.[12] Influenced by saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., his albums are usually classified as smooth jazz.

1990s: Worldwide acclaim with Breathless, Miracles and The Moment

Kenny G has worked on several film soundtracks, including Dying Young and The Bodyguard. The song "Theme for Dying Young", written for that movie, was nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Kenny G co-wrote the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, and performed his own song "Waiting for You" as well as his single "Even If My Heart Would Break". His music was also included in The Shadow and Miracle on 34th Street.

His sixth studio album, Breathless, was released in 1992, and went on to become the best-selling instrumental album ever, with over 15 million copies sold worldwide, selling 12 million copies in the United States alone. The album included many hits such as "Forever in Love", the recipient of the Grammy Award for the Best Instrumental Composition and which charted in the Billboard Year-End Hot 100. "Sentimental" charted at No. 27 on the Adult Contemporary Chart, and "By the Time This Night Is Over", a collaboration with Peabo Bryson, peaked at No. 25 on the Hot 100. His first holiday album, Miracles, sold over 13 million copies, making it the most successful Christmas album to date.[11] He also performed the "National Anthem of the United States" at the 1994 FIFA World Cup closing ceremony at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on July 17, 1994.[16]

Kenny G in 1998

Kenny G earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997 for playing the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone. Using circular breathing, Kenny G held an E-flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds at J&R Music World in New York City.[17] The same year, his song "Havana", from the album The Moment, was remixed by Todd Terry and Tony Moran and released to dance clubs in the U.S. The mixes went to No.1 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart in April 1997.[18]

Kenny G's second holiday album, Faith, is the best selling holiday album of 1999 in the United States selling 2 million units according to Nielsen/SoundScan. The singles taken from the album, the traditional "Auld Lang Syne", reached No. 7 on the Hot 100. His rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" was, at the time of charting, popularized by the then-upcoming New Year celebration for 2000. At the time of its peak, it was also the oldest-written song to make the Hot 100 charts.[19]

2000s: Continued popularity

In February 2000, Kenny G was invited to the White House and performed for state governors and members of the Clinton Cabinet.[20]

He released his eighth studio album, Paradise in 2002. The album featured R&B singer Brian McKnight, and included the single "One More Time", a duet with Chanté Moore.

On At Last...The Duets Album, he collaborated with friends and colleagues David Sanborn, David Benoit, Daryl Hall, lead singer of Hall & Oates, Burt Bacharach, and Barbra Streisand. It includes covers such as Careless Whisper, and Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word", a collaboration with Richard Marx. The album is certified Gold in the US.

Kenny G playing in Shanghai in 2007

2006 saw the release of Kenny G's eleventh studio album I'm in the Mood for Love...The Most Romantic Melodies of All Time featuring renditions of The Beatles's songs, the love theme from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the Secret Garden's hit song "You Raise Me Up", and James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", as well as the Chinese ballad "The Moon Represents My Heart".

Kenny G was named the 25th highest-selling artist in America by the RIAA, with 48 million albums sold in the U.S. as of July 31, 2006.[21]

In October 2009, Kenny G appeared with the band Weezer in an AOL promotion of their album Raditude by soloing during "I'm Your Daddy". Kenny G said he knew nothing of Weezer before the performance.[22] Though some music critics thereby rejoined in the common criticism of his work,[23][24] the unlikely combination was fairly well received by AOL's magazines and[22][25]


His 2010 album Heart and Soul is strongly influenced by R&B, featuring Robin Thicke and his long-time collaborator Babyface. It received positive reviews from critics.

In February 2011, Kenny G appeared in the Super Bowl XLV ad for Audi called "Release the Hounds".[26] He starred in a short as Head of Riot Suppression for a luxury Prison.[27]

He made an appearance in the music video for Katy Perry's single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" as Uncle Kenny. On the October 8, 2011 episode of Saturday Night Live, he performed with alternative rock band Foster the People on the song "Houdini".

Kenny G hosts a radio show with Sandy Kovach on WLOQ in Orlando, Florida.[28]

His Brazilian Nights was announced on October 28, 2014. The album was inspired by Cannonball Adderley's bossa nova recordings, Paul Desmond, and Stan Getz. The album was released in January 2015.[29] It helped Kenny G get back to the Billboard 200 at number 86. He started The Brazilian Tour for the album, traveling throughout North America and Asia throughout the year.

Kenny G posted Twitter images of his visit to the site of the 2014 Hong Kong protests, which the PRC government has declared illegal, saying, "I wish everyone a peaceful and positive conclusion to this situation". The feed provoked an immediate angry reaction from the Chinese foreign ministry. Kenny G issued a clarification, "I don't really know anything about the situation and my impromptu visit to the site was just part of an innocent walk around Hong Kong...I only wanted to share my wish for peace for Hong Kong and for all of China as I feel close to and care about China very much".[30][31][32][33]

In February 2017, Kenny G was satirized by Andy Samberg in the Netflix program "Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special". At the end of the scene, Kenny G appears as a janitor.[34] He competed in an episode of Drop the Mic against country singer Jake Owen.[35]

Popularity in China

Kenny G has recorded Chinese songs, such as "Jasmine Flower" () and "The Moon Represents My Heart" (?).[36]

Since 1989, Kenny G's recording "Going Home" from the Kenny G Live album has become an unconventional mega-hit throughout China: It has become the unofficial national closing song for businesses such as food courts, outdoor markets, health clubs, shopping malls and train stations throughout the country.[37] Many businesses begin piping the music over their loudspeakers shortly before closing at night. Television stations also play the song before ending their evening broadcasts. Many Chinese, when asked, say they associate the song with the need to finish their activity or business and go home (although they may not even know the name of the song or its artist).[38][30]


Kenny G has attracted significant criticism from mainstream jazz musicians and enthusiasts. Pat Metheny stated he was a "pop" saxophonist "but was not really an advanced player, even in that style", adding that he had "major rhythmic problems" and his "harmonic and melodic vocabulary was extremely limited, mostly to pentatonic based and blues-lick derived patterns". Metheny believes the main reason Kenny G has become unpopular is "he sells an enormous amount of records while not being anywhere near a really great player in relation to the standards that have been set on his instrument over the past sixty or seventy years".[39]Branford Marsalis once stated in an interview with Jazziz magazine: "When all these jazz guys get in a tizzy over Kenny G, they need to leave Kenny alone. He's not stealing jazz. The audience he has wouldn't be caught dead at a real jazz concert or club. It's not like some guy says, 'You know, I used to listen to Miles, Trane and Ornette. And then I heard Kenny G, and I never put on another Miles record.' It's a completely different audience".[40]

Kenny G's 1999 single "What a Wonderful World" was criticized for its overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's recording. The primary criticism is that a recording by Armstrong, known especially for improvisation, should not be altered by a musician whose range and depth of understanding was already in question.[41][42][43][44][45] Some columnists suggested Kenny G's recording exposed more fans to real jazz, but the response to his recording tended to be negative.[46]


Kenny G plays the Selmer Mark VI soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. He has created his own line of saxophones called "Kenny G Saxophones".[47]

Personal life

Kenny G married Janice DeLeon in 1980, and they divorced in 1987.[48] He married Lyndie Benson in 1992, and the couple had two sons: Max and Brian.[49] Max graduated from Columbia University and Brian from the University of Southern California.[50][51][52] In January 2012, Benson-Gorelick filed for legal separation.[53] Kenny G filed for divorce in August 2012.[54]

Kenny G built a house in Hunts Point, Washington, in 1996 which he sold in 1999 to Craig McCaw.[55] Kenny G now lives in Malibu, California.[56] He is an avid golfer and has a handicap of +0.6.[4] He has participated in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament seven times as of 2007 and teamed with Phil Mickelson to share the AT&T pro-am title in 2001 with the team of Tiger Woods and Jerry Chang.[5] In the Golf Digest rankings of Top 100 in Music, according to golf handicap indexes of major musicians, he was first in 2006[4] and second in 2008.[57] He is a member at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.[58]

Kenny G is an aircraft pilot and has a De Havilland Beaver seaplane that he flies regularly.[59] He was also an early investor in the Starbucks coffee house chain.[60]

Kenny G is Jewish.[61][62]


Awards and nominations

Concert tours


  • Brazilian Tour (2015)
  • The Miracles Holiday & Hits Tour (2017)


See also


  1. ^ a b "Kenny G Is Still the Smooth Jazz King". Barnes & October 2002. Archived from the original on April 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  2. ^ Hwang, Kellie (July 2, 2013). "7/5: Kenny G performing at Wild Horse Pass Casino". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ Kenny G (June 19, 2009). "Some more Q&A". Kenny G Rhythm and Romance. Archived from the original on March 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Diaz, Jaime (December 2006). "After selling millions of records, Grammy winner Kenny G wants to conquer golf". Golf Digest. Retrieved 2007.
  5. ^ a b c Kroichick, Ron (February 7, 2007). "Kenny G can swing with the best of them". Scripps News. Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  6. ^ "Robert Damper". Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ "Gene Stout. Seattle-bred sax star Kenny G wows crowd in Jazz Alley debut". The Seattle Times. April 27, 2012. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ a b Glenn, Alan (1995). "Kenny G". HighBeam Research, Inc. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Kenny G Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007.
  10. ^ "Kenny G Seeking New Directions in His Life and Music". Los Angeles Times. September 7, 1990. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Kevin (September 30, 2002). "Kenny G Has Time on his Side". Retrieved 2007.
  12. ^ a b Sandow, Greg (2007). "Kenny G". Microsoft Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. Archived from the original on August 29, 2009. Retrieved 2007.
  13. ^ "The Moment - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007.
  14. ^ "Everlasting - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007.
  15. ^ "Living in the 20th Century - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2007.
  16. ^ "The Star-Spangled Banner - Kenny G - 1994 FIFA World Cup closing ceremonies at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, on Jul. 17 1994". YouTube. August 13, 2008. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "Kenny G. Blows". Yahoo!. December 2, 1997. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  18. ^ "Dance/Club Play Songs - Week of April 26, 1997". Billboard. Retrieved 2010.
  19. ^ Fred Bronson (January 8, 2000). "Kenny G hits with auldie but goodie". Billboard: 118.
  20. ^ "Anne Gearan. Clinton hosts governors minus Bush". Associated Press. February 27, 2000. Retrieved 2014.
  21. ^ "Top Artists". July 31, 2006. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007.
  22. ^ a b Charley Rogulewski Weezer Run With Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles and ... Kenny G?, October 23, 2009
  23. ^ Tom Breihan Weezer Team Up With Kenny G, Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles Pitchfork Media, October 23, 2009
  24. ^ Mike Burr Weezer Breaks Out Rolodex, Brings Kenny G., Chamillionaire, and Sara Bareilles To AOL Session Prefix Magazine, October 23, 2009
  25. ^ Kenny G Steps Back Into the Spotlight, October 26, 2009
  26. ^ Audi Big Game Commercial 2011 - Release the Hounds on YouTube, February 2, 2011
  27. ^ Audi Big Game 2011 Teaser - Kenny G Riot Suppressor (Part 2) on YouTube, February 1, 2011
  28. ^ "Kenny G & Sandy Kovach - Orlando's Smooth Jazz". August 18, 2011. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  29. ^ Jazz Times | Detail Archived October 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  30. ^ a b Jonathan Kaiman. "China furious after Kenny G appears to back Hong Kong protesters". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014.
  31. ^ "Kenny G angers China with 'Occupy' Hong Kong visit - CNN". CNN. October 23, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  32. ^ "Tweets in Hong Kong Put Kenny G in Jam With Communist Party". NPR. October 23, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  33. ^ Levin, Dan (OCT. 22, 2014). "Beijing Unsoothed by a Kenny G Visit". The New York Times
  34. ^ Gilbert, Sophie. "Netflix and Chill With a Michael Bolton Valentine's Day Special". Retrieved 2017.
  35. ^ "Wayne Brady vs. Jake Owen and Kenny G vs. Richard Marx". Retrieved 2019.
  36. ^ ?·?.
  37. ^ Kory Grow (May 12, 2014). "China Embraces Kenny G's 'Going Home' as Its Anthem to Go Home". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014.
  38. ^ Levin, Dan (May 11, 2014). "China Says Goodbye in the Key of G: Kenny G". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  39. ^ "Pat Metheny on Kenny G". Retrieved 2017.
  40. ^ "5 reasons we really don't like Kenny G". Las Vegas Sun. July 10, 2009. Retrieved 2017.
  41. ^ Ben Ratliff MUSIC; Jazz Can Take Itself Too Seriously The New York Times, July 16, 2000
  42. ^ Mark Sabbatini Kenny G: At Last...The Duets Album All About Jazz, December 30, 2004
  43. ^ George Varga Kenny G: Changes His Tune Archived September 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine JazzTimes May 1999
  44. ^ Mike Joyce Who's overrated? Who's Underrated? Archived March 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine JazzTimes, September 1997
  45. ^ Pat Metheny MUSIC; Pat Metheny on Kenny G Jazz Oasis, October 5, 2000
  46. ^ Maldonado, Shirley (August 10, 2000). "Gee whiz, give Kenny a break". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2010.
  47. ^ "Kenny G Saxophones". Archived from the original on June 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  48. ^ "Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013". State of Washington. Retrieved 2019.
  49. ^ Binkley, Christina. "Malibu clothing line Bleusalt started with a beach hoodie and quickly grew with the help of a few celebrities". Retrieved 2020.
  50. ^ "Irena Medavoy Reveals How Hollywood Does a Whirlwind East Coast College Tour | Hollywood Reporter". Retrieved 2020.
  51. ^ "Life in the espresso lane". Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved 2020.
  52. ^ "Lyndie Benson of Bleusalt Found Her Mojo at Midlife--Here's How". NextTribe. July 11, 2018. Retrieved 2020.
  53. ^ Fleeman, Mike (August 13, 2012). "Kenny G Files for Divorce After 20 Years of Marriage". People. Retrieved 2012.
  54. ^ Business | Mccaw Buys Kenny G's Hunts Point House | Seattle Times Newspaper Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  55. ^ "Girl hurt by item cast from Kenny G's home". Los Angeles Times. June 30, 2007. Retrieved 2011.
  56. ^ Furlong, Lisa; Craig Bestrom (November 2008). "The Top 100 in Music". Golf Digest. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved 2010.
  57. ^ Buttitta, Bob (October 24, 2017). "Kenny G hits the right notes on the golf course, too". VC Star. USA Today. Having been a member at Sherwood Country Club for the last 20 years, Gorelick is interested to see how Champions Tour players like Bernard Langer, John Daly, Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin play on a course he knows so well.
  58. ^ Strauss, Neil (October 31, 2006). "... And Two if by Seaplane". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010.
  59. ^ Harding, Cortney (January 25, 2008). "Q&A: Kenny G explores Latin 'Rhythm'". Reuters. Retrieved 2010.
  60. ^ Glassman, Marvin (December 1, 2015). "Kenny G to perform Hanukkah song in concert". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2020. The 59-year-old Jewish saxophonist, born as Kenneth Gorelick, is considered as the biggest selling instrumental musician alive with sales of his 23 albums over 30 years totaling over 75 million records, according to "Billboard Magazine."
  61. ^ Kenny G on His Best-Selling Christmas Album: "But I'm Jewish!" | Where Are They Now | OWN YouTube

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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