Dave Koz On The People Who Influenced Him Most

Jeryl Brunner

Dave Koz began playing the saxophone so he could join his brother’s band. "I started on piano and was absolutely horrible. Then I switched to the drums and was even worse," shares the saxophonist and nine-time Grammy nominated artist.

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Dave Koz (Photo by Antonio Dixon)

Growing up his older brother had a band which did not have a saxophone player. He said, ‘There is no way you’re ever getting into this band. Except if you play the sax.’" Luckily for us, he picked up the instrument and never looked back. "I never would have ever imagined this would become my life’s work because I was not that great at it," he insists. "But other people saw something in me and my brother was definitely one of those people."

During nearly thirty years Koz has played for United States presidents, gotten a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and become a platinum-selling artist with 11 number on albums on Billboard’s Current Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. He shared more about his life and the people who help transform him.

Early on, he had musical mentors who helped change his life. "When I graduated from college I was a mass communications major fully intent on having a regular job. But I got a gig with a singer named Bobby Caldwell who saw something in me that I didn’t know was there. Jeff Lorber, also saw something in me when I played in his band. These guys pushed me to the front of the stage. It was not really something I knew I wanted. They were hugely instrumental in me having the career that I’ve had. I’m terribly grateful."

Koz is featured on the Foo Fighters’ album "Concrete & Gold." And frontman Dave Grohl considers Koz his unofficial godfather.  "I love Dave. We have known each other for a very long time. I became his godfather at least 10 years ago. He didn’t grow up with one. Not only is he one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, he is one of the kindest, most present people I’ve ever met. He is also a great father, husband, friend, and of course an unbelievably talented musician and artist. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a valet attendant or CEO, he treats everybody with the same respect. If you’re a human being and you encounter Dave Grohl he’s going to be interested in you. He is the most unselfish, un-self-involved rock star. It’s such a beautiful thing. He just wants to know about people."

He hosts two radio shows. "The Dave Koz Radio Show has been on broadcast radio for more than 20 years now. It’s heard on stations around the country. I also host the Dave Koz Lounge, on Sirius XM channel 66 on Sundays. Like many things in my career, I never really planned it.  Instrumentalists usually hover a bit below the radar. We're not singers. I love being a champion for amazing musicians. Without them the world would be a much sadder place. And it certainly wouldn’t sound as good."

He connected Dave Grohl and Barry Manilow. "In 2009 when I got my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I invited a few people who are great friends of mine. Dave Grohl was there. Barry Manilow inducted me. Barry is a huge fan of Dave Grohl. And Dave, totally to Barry’s surprise, is a huge fan of Barry’s. They met for the first time at that Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony and became great friends. I was so proud to be the conduit to introduce these two superstars.

He has a wine label Koz Wine. Koz produces two wines in partnership with the Santa Barbara winemaker Terravant. Not only have the wines won several wine competitions, all of Koz’s proceeds from the wine sales are donated directly to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, where he has served as a Global Ambassador for more than two decades. "The foundation is very near and dear to my heart. We have raised thousands and thousands of dollars through the sale of wine, and other things we do, like silent auctions.”

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

New York City, NY
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