Born in Detroit to a large family of musicians, Wiedoeft began playing with his family orchestra, first on violin, then on clarinet. After moving to New York, he discovered the saxophone, which was still a relatively obscure instrument. Shortly thereafter, he began the long series of recordings with the Edison company which lead to his world-wide fame. He would go on to make more than 300 recordings for Edison and other labels until his death. Some of his original compositions were hits in their day, notably Valse Erica, Valse Llewellyn ( Rudy Wiedoeft / Waikiki Hawaiian Orchestra - Valse Llewellyn / My Waikiki Mermaid, Saxema, Saxophobia, and Sax-o-Phun.
His chief instrument was the C melody saxophone, a variety which was immensely popular in the 1910s and 20s. His style was noted for very rapid runs of well articulated notes in between long lush legato phrases in a ragtime influenced style. Wiedoeft employed several 'sound effects,' such as slap tonguing, "laughing" (altering/bending the pitch of the note), and "chock tones" alongside his very distinguishable vibrato.
He remained a very popular entertainer into the 1920s and performed regularly on radio, but his style faded in popularity in the U.S. with the onset of the Great Depression. In the early 1930s he toured Europe, where his music was still appreciated, and briefly worked in Rudy Vallee's band. From the mid-1930s on, he essentially stopped playing and was involved in several mining investments that, unfortunately, proved unsuccessful.
Rudy and his wife Mary had a difficult relationship partially due to difficulties in maintaining their flamboyant lifestyle and alcohol abuse. On March 24, 1937, he was nearly killed when Mrs. Wiedoeft stabbed him with a butcher knife in a domestic dispute about money. The couple reconciled, and in the same year Rudy made his last radio appearance on the Phil Spitalny Radio Show. He died in Flushing, New York in 1940 from cirrhosis of the liver.