Kenny G, born Kenneth Bruce Gorelick in Seattle’s Jewish neighborhood, is known mainly for his smooth contemporary jazz sound and for being one of the best-selling artists of all time. What he is less well known for, as he reveals in an interview with Bloomberg, is that he may have played in pivotal role in the development of one of Starbucks’ most popular beverages, the Frappuccino.
Kenny G was an early investor in Starbucks, and his business savvy shows in how well he markets his musical act, particularly in China, where he garners massive sales. Kenny G. recounts floating several ideas to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, including something he saw at another company called Coffee Bean. Kenny G. told Bloomberg, “And I would always call Howard Schultz and say, ‘Howard, there’s this thing they do that is like a milkshake or whatever.’ And so I think that part of the reason they did Frappuccino was people like me giving them that kind of feedback. So I’d like to think that I was partially responsible for that.”
Well, the Coffee Bean, if the story is true, was ultimately responsible, but at least Kenny G. saw the potential, tipped off his friend Howard, who had been selling just plain coffee up to that point, so he could develop the “milkshake or whatever” thing to its full potential and charge a fortune for it.