Kenny G has come a long way from being a music lover to a sideman and then going on to become a Grammy award-winning smooth jazz saxophone. He was a gifted boy who had a natural aptitude for music from an early age. He began playing the saxophone at the age of eleven and debuted as a sideman for Barry White seven years later. His meteoric rise is littered with chart-topping albums, each of which has achieved platinum status at the box office. While all of his albums were enormous hits, his fourth studio album, ‘Duotones,’ and his sixth studio album, ‘Breathless,’ received unprecedented critical acclaim. In 1994, he was honored with a Grammy Award for his song “Forever in Love.” He’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records. Apart from music, Kenny G is an accomplished golfer who has competed in numerous events. In 2006, he was voted No. 1 in the Golf Digest Top 100 in Music list.
Childhood and Adolescence
Kenneth Bruce Gorelick was born in the Seattle neighborhood of Seward Park to Jewish parents.
His first encounter with the saxophone occurred when he was ten years old. He decided to learn to play the instrument after hearing someone play it on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Gerald Pfister, a local trumpeter, taught him how to play the saxophone. In addition, he mimicked George Washington Jr.’s documents. The Buffet Crampon alto was the first saxophone he ever touched.
Whitworth Elementary School, Sharples Junior High School, and Franklin High School were among the schools where he received his formal education.
He first sought to gain a spot in a jazz band while still in school, but to no avail. He didn’t quite up, though, and the next year he was able to secure a seat. Meanwhile, he took private saxophone and clarinet instruction from Johnny Jessen for a year.
The Career of Kenny
In 1973, he obtained a gig as a sideman with Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra while still in high school. For some concerts, he partnered with White. Around this time, he decided to change his name to Kenny G.
He continued his schooling while pursuing his professional career as a saxophonist, enrolling at the University of Washington, Seattle, for a major in accounting. He received a magna cum laude from the university.
In addition to playing with White, he was a member of the funk band ‘Cold, Bold, and Together’ before becoming a member of The Jeff Lorber Fusion. He collaborated on an album with the band and also toured with them.
President Clive Davis signed him as a solo artist with Arista Records in 1982 after hearing his cover of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” In the same year, he released his self-titled debut album, ‘Kenny G.’ The album was favorably praised by critics and established a wonderful blend between jazz and R&B.
His second album, ‘G Force,’ was released the following year. The album garnered positive reviews and was certified platinum at the box office. Two years later, he released ‘Gravity,’ his third studio album, which followed in the footsteps of its predecessors. In the United States, both his second and third studio albums were certified platinum.
While his first three albums helped to establish his profile, it was his fourth album, ‘Duotones,’ that cemented his status as an international celebrity. The album has sold over 5 million copies in the United States alone. He was known for his unique musical interpretations.
The super-successful career drew offers from renowned musicians all around the world. He performed alongside huge names including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Natalie Cole. He also collaborated with Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach, and Frank Sinatra.
George Washington Jr’s early influence had a profound impact on his music and career. Smooth jazz was the genre of choice for the majority of his releases. In general, his compositions dominated the music industry.
‘Breathless,’ his sixth studio album, was released in 1992. Both critically and commercially, the record was well received. It was a ‘breathless’ success, selling over 15 million copies worldwide, with 12 million copies sold in the United States alone. The record went on to become the best-selling instrumental album of all time.
He released his first-holiday album, ‘Miracles,’ two years later, in 1994. The album went on to sell over 13 million copies, making it the most popular Christmas album of all time. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.
He published the album ‘The Moment’ in 1996. The album was a smash hit in the United States, earning platinum status. It was awarded gold status in the United Kingdom.
He made history in 1997 when he played the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone. He sustained the E flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds at the J&R Music World in New York City, using the circular breathing technique. As a result, he was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The same year, his song ‘Havana,’ from the 1996 album ‘The Moment,’ was remixed by DJs Todd Terry and Tony Moran and distributed to dance clubs in the United States as a promotional release. The audience adored the mixes so much that they reached No. 1 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs chart in April 1997.
In the year 1999, his album ‘Classics in the Key of G’ was released. The album received a lot of positive feedback. ‘What a Wonderful World,’ his song from the same year, was highly lambasted by critics for overdubbing Louis Armstrong’s legendary recording.
He played at the White House for state governors and members of the Clinton Cabinet in 2000 after receiving an invitation.
After achieving commercial success in the smooth jazz genre, he attempted to broaden his musical horizons. As a result, in 2002, he released the album ‘Paradise,’ which featured tropical sounds. ‘Rhythm and Romance,’ a Latin rhythm album, was released in 2008.
He collaborated with the band Weezer for an AOL promotion of their album Raditude in 2009. The following year, he released his twelfth studio album, ‘Heart and Soul,’ which included Robie Thicke and Babyface. On the Billboard Jazz list, the album reached number one.
In 2011, he made a handful of cameos, beginning with the ‘Release the Hounds’ Super Bowl XLV ad for Audi. In addition, he starred in a short film about his stint as the Luxury Prison’s Head of Riot Suppression.
Later, he appeared in Katy Perry’s ‘Last Friday Night’ music video as part of the star cast (T.G.I.F.). He even made an appearance on a Saturday Night Live episode.
He is a radio personality that can be heard every morning on WLOQ in Orlando, Florida, alongside Sandy Kovach, creating music CDs and accompanying notable musicians.
Achievements & Awards
In 1994, he won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition for his song “Forever in Love.”
His name was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records in 1997 for playing the E flat for 45 minutes and 47 seconds at the J&R Music World in New York City.
The RIAA declared him the 25th best-selling musician in America in 2003. He has sold 48 million albums by 2006, according to estimates.
Personal History and Legacy
Lyndie Benson, whom he married in 1992, was his bridesmaid. Max and Noah, the couple’s two children, were born to them. Their union, however, did not last long, and the two legally divorced in 2012.
He enjoys golfing and is an avid golfer, in addition to music and singing. In 2006, Golf Digest rated him the best golfer in the music industry. He competed in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament, winning the championship in 2001.
He is a Sherwood Country Club member in Thousand Oaks, California.
He is also a trained aircraft pilot who flies the De Havilland Beaver seaplane on a regular basis.
Estimated Net worth
Kenny G has a net worth of $100 million as an adult contemporary and smooth jazz saxophonist in the United States.
Kenny G is the most successful instrumentalist of all time, with 75 million albums sold worldwide. He is also one of the top 100 best-selling musicians of all time.
This acclaimed smooth jazz saxophonist sustained a single musical note on his saxophone for 45 minutes through a process known as circular breathing, which earned him a Guinness Book of Records.