Daniel LeMelle was an American saxophonist, best known for his work with the late singer Rick James. He was born on May 12, 1952, in Detroit, Michigan, and started playing saxophone at an early age. He went on to attend Wayne State University, where he honed his musical skills and played with local bands in Detroit.
In the mid-1970s, LeMelle joined the Motown band Switch, which was signed to Gordy Records. He played saxophone and keyboards and wrote songs for the group. After several successful albums with Switch, LeMelle left the band to pursue other opportunities.
In 1979, LeMelle joined the Rick James Stone City Band, a funk and soul group led by Rick James. LeMelle played saxophone and provided backup vocals for the band. He was featured prominently on the band’s hit songs, including “Give It to Me Baby” and “Super Freak.” LeMelle’s saxophone solos and riffs helped to define the sound of Rick James’ music.
In addition to his work with Rick James, LeMelle was a sought-after session musician and played on recordings by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Lionel Richie. He also released several solo albums throughout his career, including “Street Scene” and “Transatlantic.”
LeMelle continued to perform and record music throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He passed away on January 5, 2015, at the age of 62. His contributions to funk and soul music, particularly his work with Rick James, continue to be celebrated by music fans and fellow musicians alike.
Page last updated 4/8/2023.