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Best Sax Solos from the 1970s

Updated on August 23, 2017

What is the best 1970s rock sax solo?

Here are some top sax solos from the 1970s. If you like these, then check out my collection of the best sax solos of all time and vote for your personal favourite!



Original artwork, "Sax for Sale", © 2009 by Kate Phizackerley, all rights reserved.

Ten of the Best Sax Solos from the 1970s

I compiled my personal showcase of the greatest sax solos ever a while ago, then I came across the video by Dangoist featuring his ten picks of rick sax sols from the 1970s so I thought I would create a lens featuring those ten tracks:

  1. David Sanbourn on the 1975 David Bowie track, "Young Americans"
  2. Raphael Ravenscroft on the 1978 Gerry Rafferty classic
  3. Pete Christlieb playing on the 1977 "Deacon Blues" by Steel Dan
  4. Michael Brecker on "Still Crazy after all these Years" by the great Paul Simon (1975)
  5. Phil Woods playing the 1977 "Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel
  6. Dick Parry plays the sax solo on the Pink Floyd track, "Money", from 1973
  7. Bobby Keys on the 1971 Rolling Stones track, "Brown Sugar"
  8. Andrew Mackay of Mott 'the Hopple' playing "All the Way from Memphis" in 1973
  9. Big Man Clarence Clemons playing on Sprinstein's "Jungeland" from 1975
  10. Ronnie Ross on Lou Reed's 1972 track "Walk on the Wild Side"

Browse on for a full version of each of these great tracks.

David Bowie - Young Americans - Alto Sax Solo by David Sanbourn

A great live performance - from 1983 I think. Fantastic energy and great alto sax from American saxophonistist David Sanbourn! Sanbourn is a top session musician who has played with the likes of David Bowie, Elton John and Billy Joel.

Sting with David Sanbourn

David Sanbourn might these days be best known for his sax solo on the theme to LA Law but as a bonus I wanted to feature him playing with Sting. Sting playing the acoustic guitar is just fantastic - and Sting's Roxanne remains one of my all time favourite songs. Here they are playing together on a special version of Ain't no Sunshine When She's Gone.

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street - Alto Sax Solo by Raphael Ravenscroft

Raphael Ravenscroft's sax solo from Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street is instantly recognignised and one of the best known rock sax solos. It made my personal hall of fame so you can vote for it in my poll of the greatest ever sax solos. It's just a shame that few people seem to recall that it was played by Raphael Ravenscroft.

Steely Dan - Deacon Blues - Roger Rosenberg and Walt Weiskopf

Peter Christlieb played the tenor sax on the original but doesn't appear in this live version which instead features Roger Rosenberg (baritone sax) and Walt Weiskopf. This track is special because it also mentions the saxophone in the chorus:

I'll learn to work the saxophone

I'll play just what I feel

Drink Scotch whisky all night long

And die behind the wheel

They got a name for the winners in the world

I want a name when I lose

They call Alabama the Crimson Tide

Call me Deacon Blues

Music and lyrics © Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

Paul Simon - Still Crazy after all these Years - Tenor Sax Solo by Michael Brecker

First recorded in 1975, here is a live version from 1992 featuring the late Michael Brecker on saxophone who played the solo on the studio album. David Sanborn, who is featured earlier in this lens, also played on this album.

Billy Joel - Just the Way You Are - Alto Sax Solo by Phil Woods

Billy Joel has written and performed several songs with great sax solos. Here is one of the best known and perhaps the best loved of the sax solos featuring Phil Woods. Just the Way You Are is taken from The Stranger which is perhaps Billy Joel's greatest album.

Pink Floyd - Money - Tenor Sax Solo by Dirk Parry

Englishman Dirk Parry is responsible for the famous 'Floyd' sax solos, including this one on Money taken from Dark Side of the Moon. For once I have gone with a sudio version because I wanted to show the video.

Rollig Stones - Brown Sugar

Tenor Sax Solo by Bobby Keys

Keith Richard's honky tonk meets rock guitar is immediatelty recognisable but remember we are listening for the sax solo by Bobby Keys on this early Stones track. If buying a track be careful because not all versions feature the sax solo - it is sometimes replaced by a guitar solo..

WARNING: this song has adult lyrics Because this is a G-rated lens I haven't embedded a video but you can find one easily on YouTube.

Mott the Hoople - All the Way from Memphis - Sax Solo by Andrew Mackay

This little known song has a very memorable sax solo by Andrew Mackay although opinion is divided on whether it is great ... or silly! Although Mott the Hopple are somewhat obscure, Andrew Mackay went on to become a founder member of the band Roxy Music led by the astonishingly talented Bryan Ferry

Bruce Springstein - Jungleland - Tenor Sax Solo by Clarence Clemons

There is no doubt that Big Man, Clarence Clemons is one of the most famous rock saxophonists. He has worked with many artists but is best known for his work with Bruce Springstein and the E Street Band, particularly on Jungleland and Thunder Road.

Lou Reed - A Walk on the Wild Side - Sax Solo by Ronnie Ross

This is another legendary rock song. Ronnie Ross' sax solo closes out the track - it's a shame it's faded out.

Which Decade is Best?

Is the 1970s they heyday for rock sax solos?

Here's your chance to have your say on the greatest sax solos from the 1970s!

Have Your Say?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Sting/Sanborn are playing lite version of "Ain't No Sunshine" in style of Isaac Hayes cover on the "Isaac Hayes: Live at Sahara Tahoe" LP. And the sax solo there towers over any on this list. (not the Wattstax version, even though that one is nice) YES, even better than "Baker Street", which is one of the best rock\Pop sax solos ever. This is a sad Sanborn clip to use because he is so much better with his own work. Try getting that Hayes clip here.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great site and nice solos. But please spell David Sanborn's name right! (I'm a long time fan). And he is not playing on the above David Bowie Video, although the player has ripped his famous lines from the 1975 record (and plays them very well). In the mid-80ies David Sanborn was pursuing a successful solo-career and didn't have to play gigs with David Bowie (who by the way never has been funky like Sanborn). Check out his playing on the Youtube vid's from his Night Music TV-show airing in the late 80ies ("David Sanborn night music") or with Eric Clapton, Marcus Miller and Steve Gadd on the "legends" videos. http://www.elvstroem.com