The Top 4 Classic Rock Sax Solos

You might be surprised to find out just how often the saxophone is used in classic rock. Not just relegated to jazz or big band music, there are sax players who roll and growl, swoop and dive on their instrument when it comes to songs from big-name rock artists.

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Here, we dive into four (er, five, actually) examples of some of the most well-known mainstream rock tracks that feature some legendary sax performances and players.

[RELATED: Behind the Meaning of the Subversive Pink Floyd Song “Money”]

1. “Bad To The Bone,” George Thorogood & The Destroyers

One of the most memorable blues rock songs featured a growling sax solo from musician Hank Carter. The performance comes at about the 2:45 mark in this 1982 single and it’s a blistering offering, played over the song’s legendary electric guitar riff. While for some it may seem oddly out of place, the sax solo bolsters the tough song like a chorus of rabid voices.

2. “Money,” Pink Floyd

The English musician and longtime Pink Floyd collaborator Dick Parry lent his talents to this infamous 1973 song from the psychedelic rockers. The sax solo comes in just before the two-minute mark and it’s got such skillful blues intonations it sounds like something you’ve known all your life. It warbles and shakes and moves and groves before it seems to explode.

3. “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen might be the Godfather of including sax solos in his songs. From “Born to Run” to “Jungleland,” Springsteen has taken advantage of the growling instrument in some of his biggest hits. Longtime Springsteen collaborator Clarence Clemons performs the sax solo on this 1975 song, as he does on other Bruce hits. On “Born to Run” the sax is triumphant, as if an answer to Springsteen’s lyrical prayers.

4. “Turn the Page,” Bob Seger

This 1973 song opens with an ominous, looming sax solo that sets the tone for this highway classic from Bob Seger. Played by the aptly named Alto Reed (born Thomas Neal Cartmell), this song stuns and stirs. It is the soundtrack for the bleary-eyed road warrior who has to make the next delivery by sunup. And the sax will keep your eyes and ears wide open.

Bonus: “Careless Whisper,” George Michael

While not officially classic rock, George Michael (and his earlier band Wham!) made pop music that stuck to your ribs. But it was this 1984 song, with its iconic saxophone solo, that helped Michael become one of the biggest stars in the world. The sax solo, played by English musician Steve Gregory, is so well known that it spawned this spoof, which has garnered millions of views on YouTube alone.

Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns

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