Courtney Love’s View Of Saxophones In Rock

Courtney Love: no lover of sax, drugs, and rock ‘n roll? Well 2 out 3 ain’t bad.

Courtney Love, woman playing guitar, rock band, Hole

Courtney Love, Source: whittlz on Flickr

When Adolphe Sax created the first saxophone in the 1840s, rock ‘n roll was still more than a century away. Sax could of course not have foreseen what an important influence his newly invented instrument was going to have on the rock landscape.

Just think of all the rock ‘n roll tunes from 1955 until today that used saxophones to generate important riffs and/or solos, and define the song. Can you imagine any of the following Billboard Top 40 hits—spanning five decades of rock ‘n roll—without their saxophonic elements:  (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock (Rudy Pompelli); Tequila (Chuck Rio); Loco-Motion (Artie Kaplan); James Brown’s Night Train (J.C. Davis, tenor, Alfred Corley, alto, Al “Brisco” Clark, baritone); Return To Sender (Boots Randolph); Lady Madonna (Ronnie Scott, tenor. Harry Klein, baritone, Bill Povey, tenor, Bill Jackman, baritone); Money (Dick Parry); Young Americans (David Sandorn); Waiting On A Friend (Sonny Rollins); Harden My Heart (Rindy Ross); Our House (Lee “Kix” Thompson); Never Tear Us Apart (Kirk Pengilly); or how about Stay (Leroi Moore).1

Well if you’re anything like Courtney Love, the answer to the above question would be “Yes”, you can definitely imagine these tunes, and hundreds (thousands?) more, sans sax.

Love is not one to be shy about her opinions, and in a video released recently on her YouTube channel, she offered up some comments regarding Bruce Springsteen’s choice to use saxophones in his music. This is what she had to say:

“I like Nebraska,” she said, referring to Springsteen’s 1982 album featuring only himself performing, while shrugging in a, “What do you want me to say?” kind of way. “…

“With Springsteen, I just. . .” she said, pausing to look out a car window. “And I really like him. He’s a nice guy. Cameron Crowe, an old, very dear friend of mine, took me to the Staples Center for a three-night gig, and I could only last an hour and a half in a three-and-a-half hour show with the Boss.”

Her only rationale for why she did not like Springsteen had to do with the instrumentation of the E Street Band, as well as an overarching theory of hers. “My Springsteen problem is just that saxophones don’t belong in rock & roll,” she said. “They just don’t belong.” The video then cuts to a shot of late–E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons with Springsteen as a skronky sax sound is heard in the background.

The video ends with Love shrugging off whatever Springsteen may think of her music. “I don’t think he sits around listening to Hole records, do you?”

Source: Rolling Stone

A day after Love posted the controversial video, it was removed without explanation. (I wish I would have known that before I spent half an hour searching her YouTube channel for it! Although I must admit I did find some interesting, and rather odd stuff there.)

The question is, does anyone really care what Courtney Love thinks or says about saxophones? Well one would think so based on the amount of press her self-produced video received. The question is, why?

Being a rock star doesn’t mean you know your music’s history

Courtney Love is arguably best known for being the widow of Nirvana’s frontman, the late Kurt Cobain. Her band Hole has been around in one form or another since 1989, and is one of the most successful female-fronted rock bands in music history—having sold more than 3 million albums in the US alone.2

Does this however, make her an expert on music, or even on rock ‘n roll? I don’t think so.

If Love knew her music history better, she would know that the music of today, yes, even hers, is an evolution of what came before. Sometimes the change is reactionary, sometimes simply evolutionary, but in the end today’s musicians owe a debt of gratitude to the musicians who came before and paved the way for what is current.

Could today’s music all have happened without rock ‘n roll saxophones? Perhaps, but that’s beside the point.

Saxophones have been a central element in rock ‘n roll music since the beginning, and despite the ebb and flow of their popularity in the genre, saxes can still be heard in some of the most popular songs over the past few years. For some recent examples, check out the following articles: 1, 2, 3, & 4.

You don’t criticize “The Boss” and a great dead man

Obviously the strong, and mostly critical reactions to her comments, are in part a response to her having dissed New Jersey’s favourite son. Throwing The Boss, and the late Clarence Clemons under the bus was not a cool thing to do, and if Love had a good rep, her comments would likely damage it.

However, given her reputation of tweeting stuff that most people wouldn’t think of putting on virtual paper, let alone publishing that stuff for the world to see, Courtney Love’s YouTube comments on saxophones in rock ‘n roll need to be seen through the same lens as the rest of her online commentary. Yes they were inflammatory, but they were true to Courtney Love’s style. We might not agree with her thinking, but she certainly has the right to her opinion.

Oh, here’s a tip though, if you were going to send her an audition recording, I wouldn’t bother. (Since you’re reading my sax blog, I’m assuming you’re a sax player.   ;)   )   I suspect she’s not interested in hiring any of our kind for any upcoming Hole tours.  Hey, I’m just saying…  :mrgreen:


1Source: The History of Top 40 Saxophone Solos-1955-2005, by John Laughter & Steve D. Marshall

2Source: Wikipedia page on the band Hole

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Museum Playasax Display: What Were They Thinking

Ever since I saw the Playasax for the first time way back in December 2008, I was intrigued by these interesting player saxophones. Little did I know that in such a short time these little instruments would go from being museum curiosities, to fairly common eBay items—so common in fact, that I have stopped collecting images of them for my website.

From museum piece to collectible: the Playasax goes mainstream

Over the past few years I have written about quite a few that have appeared for sale on eBay, because I know a number of my readers like saxophone collectibles. I also researched the Playasax further, and found the original patent documents, therefore was able to write a page about the little instrument for my website.

Then just when I thought I had seen everything there was to see about the Playasax, I happened to stumble across this image on Flickr…


Playasax, player saxophone, museum display, Musicial Instrument Museum, Scottsdale AZ

Photography by: jessamyn Source: Flickr

Now the photographer doesn’t state where she took the photo, but my guess is that since it’s in an album titled Arizona 2014, the most likely place where she would have seen this  Playasax is at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), in Scottsdale, AZ. (A bit of detective work on my part confirmed this. Check out Pete Hales’ pics of his visit to the MIM.)

Now admittedly I’m pretty twisted, and see connections in the weirdest, and some would say the most inappropriate ways. But I ask you, does the way the MIM has chosen to display the roll of player music look familiar to you at all? Come on now, look hard. Does it? :clown:

If you’ve never stayed in a hotel, I’ll give you a pass. But if you have, then I ask you: If the way the roll of Playasax music is displayed doesn’t remind you of a hotel’s maid service, what does it remind you of?

Evidence of service

toilet paper roll, hotel bathroom, triangle fold on toilet paper, evidence maid service cleaned bathroom

Photograhy by: Scoobyfoo  Source: Flickr

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the MIM staff opted to display their Playasax in such a way to a resemble toilet roll. After all…   :shit:

Coincidence or not, if I was the curator of this museum, I’d be asking my staff: What were you thinking?

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

WERO Royal Saxophone: Germans Loved The Unibrows

A WERO Royal saxophone on eBay

There is currently a tenor on eBay that I would love to bid on, but since I just bought a baritone—and I really do have more than enough tenors already—I am going to restrain myself, and write about it instead.  :devil1:   The tenor in question is a WERO Royal saxophone, made by Werner Roth.

WERO Royal saxophone, tenor sax, tenor saxophone, silver sax, sax case, vintage German sax

Source: edaikenbay on

Based on what you can see in the photos, this tenor appears to be in very nice shape. Here is how the seller, who lives in France, describes the horn:

Saxophone vintage *** WERO ROYAL *** dans un état exceptionnel. C’est un saxophone rare car fabriqué à peu d’exemplaires. Sonorité puissante et veloutée…

Les tampons, les ressorts et les lièges sont parfaits. Usure minimale, pas de bosses ni de dépressions.
Livré dans une belle mallette vintage style “croco”.

*** Les frais d’expédition seront ajustés selon le lieu de livraison ***

Bonnes enchères à tous !

Google Translate says…

Vintage Saxophone *** WERO ROYAL *** in exceptional condition. It is a rare saxophone since made ??some copies. Powerful and velvety sound …

Buffers, springs and corks are perfect. Minimal wear, no bumps or depressions.
Comes in a beautiful vintage style suitcase “crocodile”.

*** The shipping costs will be adjusted according to the place of delivery ***

Happy bidding!

Here are the remainder of the photos of this WERO Royal saxophone…

The Germans and their love for the unibrow

Like the Max Keilwerth’s late-model, original Presidents and Hohner Presidents, his brother Julius’ King Imperial, the Hess saxophones I mentioned just the other day, and even this Weltklang, Werner Roth’s WERO Royal saxophones had eyebrow key guards. I don’t know what it was about the Germans, but they seemed to really like that style.

If you’d like to read more about WERO Royal saxophones in general, check out the WERO page that I have on my website. (Here’s a teaser: these saxes were made between 1949-72.)

If you’re interested in this WERO Royal tenor specifically, the auction for it runs until April 24. Bids are to start at €350.00, which estimates to be $483.47 US. At the time of writing there were no bids yet on this very interesting, vintage tenor saxophone.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!