Kenny G

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick (born June 5, 1956) is an American smooth jazz saxophonist.[1] 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]

Kenny G
Gorelick in May 2013
Kenneth Bruce Gorelick

(1956-06-05) June 5, 1956 (age 65)
EducationFranklin High School
Alma materUniversity of Washington (BS, magna cum laude)
  • Saxophonist
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • golfer
Years active1973–1982 (group)
1982–present (solo)
Janice DeLeon
(m. 1980; div. 1987)

Lydie Benson
(m. 1992; div. 2012)
AwardsFull list
Musical career
Associated acts

Early life

Kenny G was born in Seattle. 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", (it reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100); and "Don't Make Me Wait for Love", which featured vocals from Lenny Williams (it 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 the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Kenny G appears on the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, performing "Waiting for You" and "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.[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]


In October 2020, the Weeknd released a remix of the popular song In Your Eyes featuring Kenny G.[36]

Kenny G contributed to the soundtrack of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run in 2021 with his covers of "My Heart Will Go On" as well as "Gary's Song", which had been written for the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Have You Seen This Snail?"[37] The Nickelodeon series parodies the artist with the character Kelpy G.[38]

Popularity in China

Kenny G has recorded Chinese songs, such as "Jasmine Flower" (茉莉花) and "The Moon Represents My Heart" (月亮代表我的心).[39]

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.[40] 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).[41][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".[42] 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".[43]

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.[44][45][46][47][48] Some columnists suggested Kenny G's recording exposed more fans to real jazz, but the response to his recording tended to be negative.[49]


Kenny G plays the Selmer Mark VI soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. He has created his own line of saxophones called "Kenny G Saxophones".[50]

Personal life

Kenny G married Janice DeLeon in 1980 and they divorced in 1987.[51] He married Lyndie Benson in 1992, and the couple had two sons: Max and Brian.[52] Max graduated from Columbia University and Brian from the University of Southern California.[53][54][55] In January 2012, Benson-Gorelick filed for legal separation.[56] Kenny G filed for divorce in August 2012.[57]

Kenny G built a house in Hunts Point, Washington, in 1996 which he sold in 1999 to Craig McCaw.[58] Kenny G now lives in Malibu, California.[59] 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.[60] He is a member of Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.[61]

Kenny G is an aircraft pilot and has a De Havilland Beaver seaplane which he flies regularly.[62] He was also an early investor in the Starbucks coffee house chain.[63]

Kenny G is Jewish.[64][65]


Studio albums

Compilation albums

Awards and nominations

Concert tours


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



  1. ^ a b c "Kenny G Is Still the Smooth Jazz King". Barnes & October 2002. Archived from the original on April 21, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 2007.
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  3. ^ Kenny G (June 19, 2009). "Some more Q&A". Kenny G Rhythm and Romance. Archived from the original on March 24, 2010. 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 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 April 7, 2007.
  6. ^ "Robert Damper". Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
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  11. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Kevin (September 30, 2002). "Kenny G Has Time on his Side". Retrieved April 7, 2007.
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  14. ^ "Everlasting – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  15. ^ "Living in the 20th Century – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 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 March 31, 2016.
  17. ^ "Kenny G. Blows". Yahoo!. December 2, 1997. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  18. ^ "Dance/Club Play Songs – Week of April 26, 1997". Billboard. Retrieved April 9, 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 October 24, 2014.
  21. ^ "Top Artists". July 31, 2006. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved April 7, 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 December 27, 2012.
  29. ^ Jazz Times | Detail Archived October 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  30. ^ a b Jonathan Kaiman (October 22, 2014). "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. ^ Gilbert, Sophie (February 7, 2017). "Netflix and Chill With a Michael Bolton Valentine's Day Special". Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  35. ^ "Wayne Brady vs. Jake Owen and Kenny G vs. Richard Marx". Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  36. ^ "Kenny G Talks Working with the Weeknd, and Becoming Cool, 40 Years into His Career". October 21, 2020.
  37. ^ "Soundtracks". Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  38. ^ "Who is kelpy g.?". Alexa Answers. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  39. ^ 吹萨克斯的肯尼·基为什么这么遭人嫌弃.
  40. ^ Kory Grow (May 12, 2014). "China Embraces Kenny G's 'Going Home' as Its Anthem to Go Home". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  41. ^ Levin, Dan (May 11, 2014). "China Says Goodbye in the Key of G: Kenny G". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
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  44. ^ Ben Ratliff MUSIC; Jazz Can Take Itself Too Seriously The New York Times, July 16, 2000
  45. ^ Mark Sabbatini Kenny G: At Last...The Duets Album All About Jazz, December 30, 2004
  46. ^ George Varga Kenny G: Changes His Tune Archived September 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine JazzTimes May 1999
  47. ^ Mike Joyce Who's overrated? Who's Underrated? Archived March 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine JazzTimes, September 1997
  48. ^ Pat Metheny MUSIC; Pat Metheny on Kenny G Jazz Oasis, October 5, 2000
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  51. ^ "Washington, Marriage Records, 1854-2013". State of Washington. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  52. ^ Binkley, Christina. "Malibu clothing line Bleusalt started with a beach hoodie and quickly grew with the help of a few celebrities". Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  53. ^ "Irena Medavoy Reveals How Hollywood Does a Whirlwind East Coast College Tour | Hollywood Reporter". April 16, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
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  55. ^ "Lyndie Benson of Bleusalt Found Her Mojo at Midlife—Here's How". NextTribe. July 11, 2018. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  56. ^ Fleeman, Mike (August 13, 2012). "Kenny G Files for Divorce After 20 Years of Marriage". People. Retrieved August 14, 2012.
  57. ^ Business | Mccaw Buys Kenny G's Hunts Point House | Seattle Times Newspaper Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  58. ^ "Girl hurt by item cast from Kenny G's home". Los Angeles Times. June 30, 2007. Retrieved May 25, 2011.
  59. ^ Furlong, Lisa; Craig Bestrom (November 2008). "The Top 100 in Music". Golf Digest. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ Strauss, Neil (October 31, 2006). "... And Two if by Seaplane". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  62. ^ Harding, Cortney (January 25, 2008). "Q&A: Kenny G explores Latin 'Rhythm'". Reuters. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  63. ^ Glassman, Marvin (December 1, 2015). "Kenny G to perform Hanukkah song in concert". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved June 10, 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."
  64. ^ Kenny G on His Best-Selling Christmas Album: "But I'm Jewish!" | Where Are They Now | OWN YouTube

External links