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Kenny G

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Title: Kenny G  
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Subject: List of best-selling Christmas/holiday albums in the United States, Best (Kenny G album), Breathless (Kenny G album), Classics in the Key of G, Faith: A Holiday Album
Collection: 1956 Births, 20Th-Century American Musicians, 21St-Century American Musicians, American Jazz Alto Saxophonists, American Jazz Soprano Saxophonists, American Jazz Tenor Saxophonists, American Male Musicians, American People of Canadian-Jewish Descent, Arista Records Artists, Concord Records Artists, Franklin High School (Seattle) Alumni, Grammy Award Winners, Jewish American Musicians, Living People, Male Jazz Musicians, Musicians from Seattle, Washington, Smooth Jazz Saxophonists, University of Washington Alumni
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Kenny G

Kenny G
Kenny G in May 2013
Background information
Birth name Kenneth Bruce Gorelick
Also known as Kenny G
Born (1956-06-05) June 5, 1956
Origin Seattle, Washington, US
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active
  • 1973–1982 (group)
  • 1982–present (solo)
Associated acts

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5, 1956), better known by his stage name Kenny G, is an American saxophonist. His fourth album, Duotones, brought him breakthrough success in 1986.[1] Kenny G is the biggest-selling instrumental musician of the modern era and one of the best-selling artists of all time, with global sales totaling more than 75 million records.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Popularity in Hong Kong and China 3
  • Criticism 4
  • Equipment 5
  • Personal life 6
  • Discography 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Kenny G was born in Seattle, Washington, to Jewish parents (his mother was originally from Saskatchewan, Canada) and grew up in the city's Seward Park neighborhood, which is a center of the city's Jewish community. He came into contact with a saxophone when he heard someone performing with one on The Ed Sullivan Show.[1] He started playing the saxophone in 1966 when he was 10 years old. He learned how to play under the direction of local trumpeter Gerald Pfister and by practicing along with records (mostly of Grover Washington, Jr.), trying to emulate the sounds that he was hearing. His first saxophone was a Buffet Crampon alto.[3]

Kenny G attended Whitworth Elementary School, Sharples Junior High School, Franklin High School, and the University of Washington, all in his home town of Seattle. When he entered high school, he failed on his first try to get into the jazz band, but tried 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.[8]

He was also on his high school golf team.[5] He had loved the sport ever since his older brother, Brian Gorelick, introduced it to him when he was ten years old, which is the same age he was when he started playing the saxophone.[5]


Kenny G playing in Shanghai in 2007

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

Kenny G signed with Chante Moore and Aretha Franklin.[12] Influenced by the likes of saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.,[8] his own albums are usually classified as smooth jazz.

He received success quite early on, with both G Force and Gravity, his second and third studio albums respectively, achieving platinum status in the United States. These sales were topped by his fourth studio album, Duotones, which sold over 5 million copies in the U.S. alone. His sixth studio album, Breathless, became the number one best selling instrumental album ever, with over 15 million copies sold, of which 12 million were in the U.S. He broke another record when his first holiday album, Miracles, sold over 13 million copies, making it the most successful Christmas album to date.[11]

In 1997, Kenny G earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records 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.[16] That same year, Kenny G's song "Havana", from his album The Moment, was remixed by noted DJs Todd Terry and Tony Moran and released promotionally to dance clubs in the U.S. These mixes went to No.1 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart in April 1997.[17]

In February 2000, Kenny G was invited to the White House and performed for state governors and members of the Clinton Cabinet.[18]

As of 2003, Kenny G was named the 25th-highest selling artist in America by the RIAA, with 48 million albums sold in the USA as of July 31, 2006.[19] In 1994, Kenny G won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for Forever in Love.

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.[20] Though some music critics thereby rejoined in the common criticism of his work,[21][22] the unlikely combination was fairly well received by AOL's magazines and[20][23]

In February 2011 Kenny G and his music were featured in a Super Bowl XLV ad for Audi called "Release the Hounds."[24] Kenny G later starred in a short film detailing his time as Head of Riot Suppression for the Luxury Prison.[25]

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

Kenny G is also a radio personality and can be heard every morning alongside Sandy Kovach on WLOQ in Orlando, Florida.[26]

On October 28, 2014, Kenny's 14th studio album release "Brazilian Nights" was announced. According to Kenny, "Brazilian Nights" was inspired by listening to bossa nova recordings by Cannonball Adderley, Paul Desmond and Stan Getz. The new album is due in stores January 27, 2015.[27]

Popularity in Hong Kong and China

Kenny G has recorded some Chinese songs, such as "Jasmine Flower" (茉莉花) or "The Moon Represents My Heart" (月亮代表我的心). His music is noticeably popular in China.

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.[28] 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 at night. 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).[29][30]

Kenny G became embroiled in controversy when he 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. The artist issued a panicked 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]


Kenny G's 1999 single, "What A Wonderful World" was criticized in its overdubbing of Louis Armstrong's classic recording. The primary criticism is that a revered recording by an artist such as Armstrong, known especially for improvisation, should not be altered, especially by a musician whose range and depth of understanding of classic jazz was already in question.[34][35][36][37][38] Some columnists counter the criticism by suggesting that Kenny G's recording would expose a wider audience to classic jazz, though the overall response to his recording tended to be extremely negative.[39]


Kenny G plays the Selmer Mark VI Soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. He has created his own line of saxophones called "Kenny G Saxophones".[40]

Personal life

Kenny G married Lyndie Benson in 1992, and the couple had two sons. In January 2012, Benson-Gorelick filed for legal separation.[41] Kenny G filed for divorce in August 2012.[42]

Kenny G lives in Malibu, California.[43] 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.[44] He is a member at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.

Kenny G is an aircraft pilot and has a De Havilland Beaver seaplane that he flies regularly.[45] He was also an early investor in the Starbucks coffee house chain.[46]



  1. ^ a b "Kenny G Is Still the Smooth Jazz King". Barnes & October 2002. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  2. ^ Hwang, Kellie (July 2, 2013). "7/5: Kenny G performing at Wild Horse Pass Casino".  
  3. ^ Kenny G (June 19, 2009). "Some more Q & A". Kenny G Rhythm and Romance. Retrieved April 1, 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 April 7, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c d Kroichick, Ron (February 7, 2007). "Kenny G can swing with the best of them". Scripps News ( Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Robert Damper". Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Gene Stout. Seattle-bred sax star Kenny G wows crowd in Jazz Alley debut". The Seattle Times. April 27, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Wissmuller, Christian (2006). "I'm just doing my own thing, too". Jazzed (December/January). Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Glenn, Alan (1995). "Kenny G". HighBeam Research, Inc. Retrieved April 1, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d Yanow, Scott. "Kenny G Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  11. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Kevin (September 30, 2002). "Kenny G Has Time on his Side". Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  12. ^ a b  
  13. ^ "The Moment – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Everlasting – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Living in the 20th Century – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Kenny G. Blows". Yahoo!. December 2, 1997. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Dance/Club Play Songs – Week of April 26, 1997". Billboard. Retrieved April 9, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Anne Gearan. Clinton hosts governors minus Bush". Associated Press. February 27, 2000. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Top Artists". July 31, 2006. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  20. ^ a b Charley Rogulewski Weezer Run With Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles and ... Kenny G?, October 23, 2009
  21. ^ Tom Breihan Weezer Team Up With Kenny G, Chamillionaire, Sara Bareilles Pitchfork Media, October 23, 2009
  22. ^ Mike Burr Weezer Breaks Out Rolodex, Brings Kenny G., Chamillionaire, and Sara Bareilles To AOL Session Prefix Magazine , October 23, 2009
  23. ^ Kenny G Steps Back Into the Spotlight, October 26, 2009
  24. ^ Audi Big Game Commercial 2011 – Release the Hounds on YouTube, February 2, 2011
  25. ^ Audi Big Game 2011 Teaser – Kenny G Riot Suppressor (Part 2) on YouTube, February 1, 2011
  26. ^ "Kenny G & Sandy Kovach – Orlando's Smooth Jazz". August 18, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  27. ^ Jazz Times | Detail. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  28. ^ Kory Grow (May 12, 2014). "China Embraces Kenny G's 'Going Home' as Its Anthem to Go Home".  
  29. ^ Levin, Dan (May 11, 2014). "China Says Goodbye in the Key of G: Kenny G". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b Jonathan Kaiman. "China furious after Kenny G appears to back Hong Kong protesters". The Guardian. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Kenny G angers China with 'Occupy' Hong Kong visit – CNN". CNN. October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Tweets in Hong Kong Put Kenny G in Jam With Communist Party". NPR. October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  33. ^ Levin, Dan (OCT. 22, 2014). "Beijing Unsoothed by a Kenny G Visit". The New York Times
  34. ^ Ben Ratliff MUSIC; Jazz Can Take Itself Too Seriously The New York Times, July 16, 2000
  35. ^ Mark Sabbatini Kenny G: At Last...The Duets Album All About Jazz, December 30, 2004
  36. ^ George Varga Kenny G: Changes His Tune JazzTimes May 1999
  37. ^ Mike Joyce Who's overrated? Who's Underrated? JazzTimes, September 1997
  38. ^ Pat Metheny MUSIC; Pat Metheny on Kenny G Jazz Oasis, October 5, 2000
  39. ^ Maldonado, Shirley (August 10, 2000). "Gee whiz, give Kenny a break". Boston Herald. Retrieved April 7, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Kenny G Saxophones". Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  41. ^ Fleeman, Mike (August 13, 2012). "Kenny G Files for Divorce After 20 Years of Marriage".  
  42. ^ "Girl hurt by item cast from Kenny G's home".  
  43. ^ Furlong, Lisa; Craig Bestrom (November 2008). "The Top 100 in Music". Golf Digest. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  44. ^ Strauss, Neil (October 31, 2006). "... And Two if by Seaplane". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  45. ^ Harding, Cortney (January 25, 2008). """Q&A: Kenny G explores Latin "Rhythm. Reuters. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 

External links

  • Kenny G's official website
  • Kenny G at Myspace
  • Kenny G at Legacy Recordings
  • Kenny G at
  • Kenny G Interview – Billboard en Español
  • Kenny G at Allmusic
  • Kenny G at the Internet Movie Database
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