Five of the best: celebrity saxophonists
Big names from across the worlds of politics, film and even space exploration have picked up saxophones over the years. We choose some of the most memorable.
1) Bill Clinton US President
Music’s loss was politics’ gain in 1962, when the first tenor saxophone in the Arkansas state band decided he’d gone as far as he could with the instrument. ‘I loved music and thought I could be very good,’ wrote Bill Clinton many years later, ‘but I knew I would never be John Coltrane or Stan Getz.’
2) Alastair Cook Cricketer
A chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral as a youngster, England’s cricket captain went on to take up the saxophone at school. He still plays today and, in 2008, gamely put his skills to the test by agreeing to record a solo for the soundtrack of the BBC’s animated TV series Freefonix.
3) Ronald McNair Astronaut
In January 1986, Ronald McNair, a very accomplished saxophonist, was planning to make musical history by being the first person to record a piece of new music up in space – the work in question was by composer Jean Michel Jarre, with whom he had been collaborating. Tragically, the mission it was intended for ended in catastrophe, when the Challenger space shuttle exploded soon after take-off, killing all seven crew.
4) Lisa Simpson Cartoon schoolgirl
Simpsons fans have become familiar with the baritone saxophone. In each episode’s opening sequence, Lisa, Bart Simpson’s younger sister, plays an impromptu solo in her school band before heading with her sax down the corridor. Don’t pretend you haven’t seen it.
5) Jude Law Actor
Jude Law prepared for the part of Dickie Greenleaf in the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley by learning the saxophone, an instrument he’s shown playing during a night out at a jazz club. That’s ‘playing’ in the loosest sense – Law puts lips to sax in ‘Tu vuò fà l’americano’ and ‘My funny Valentine’, but his fingers don’t move a great deal…