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By Steve Peake Overview: Though one of the most versatile musical instruments, found in everything from jazz to funk to rock to orchestral music, the saxophone has generally remained one of the most maligned parts of a pop music ensemble.
A Stained Legacy Overcome: Despite the damage undoubtedly done by its '80s reputation, the saxophone has persevered and remains an important part of various musical styles still today, even pop and rock.
Think Clarence Clemons, longtime Bruce Springsteen collaborator, or Bill Clinton in his famous appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show.
Saxophone in Pop Music: Following its origins in military band music, big band and jazz, the sax found a bit of a niche in rhythm and blues, early rock and roll, Motown, soul and funk styles from the '50s throughout the '70s.
The instrument's popularity rose considerably in mainstream pop/rock during the later part of that period, as Clemons of the E Street Band made major progress toward turning the sax into a showcase piece.
In 1978, the sax reached a pinnacle of sorts in terms of prominence, as Gerry Rafferty's classic single "Baker Street" would not have half the impact it does without its central, haunting sax line.'80s Crimes Against the Saxophone: As overproduction became an ever-swelling reality with the advent of new wave and MTV, epitomized by synthesizers galore and a penchant for the biggest sounds possible, the saxophone quickly became just another ingredient of pop music.