RIP: David Weiss, Master of the Musical Saw

Written by
David Weiss: 1947 – 2014 (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Another musical friend has passed: David Weiss. What makes it more poignant is that he performed on his $7.00 Stanley Handyman Saw on Morning Becomes Eclectic with me on December 5, 1983, but also that he was born 3 days after me. Tragically, David Weiss dropped dead in Pacific Palisades while surfing on May 24th. One would think that if you’re healthy enough to go surfing you wouldn’t die of a (presumable) heart attack. Sigh.

When he guested on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, needless to say that it wasn’t the oboe he played. While he held the prestigious position of principal oboist for the LA Philharmonic for over 30 years, his notoriety came from playing a regular old carpenter’s saw. He called his saw his “Stradivarius” and what he did with it was something else. I have a signed copy of his LP Virtuoso Saw on which he plays standards like “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “Scarborough Fair”, “Eleanor Rigby”, but also difficult stuff like Ravel’s “Habanera”.  And it seems like half of the LA Philharmonic was on the LP backing him up too.

Here is a video of him playing Saint-Saens’, “The Swan”:

Here is a concert recording of the familiar folksong, “To a Wild Rose”: