Jazz Crusader Joe Sample dies at 75

Pianist and composer Joe Sample, founding member of the hard playing Jazz Crusaders, has passed away aged 75 after his fight with lung cancer.

Pianist and composer Joe Sample, founding member of the hard playing Jazz Crusaders and the hit-making fusion band The Crusaders, has passed away aged 75 after his fight with lung cancer. 

For many his music provided the gateway to jazz with melodic riffs and funk grooves. He will be remembered for his song writing on the hits 'Street Life' by the Crusaders and 'One Day I'll Fly Away' which both featured singer Randy Crawford with whom he shared a special and lasting musical relationship. On a recent visit to Jazz FM Joe Sample told Chris Philips how much he loved the outdoors. He would spend time sleeping in the open under the stars in the wilderness with a friend. He was also a keen skier, in particular he enjoyed the back country, and would often spend time skiing alone. It was on a mountain chair lift that he conceived the hit 'Street Life' whilst watching children learn on the nursery slopes below.

Joe Sample hailed from Houston's Fifth Ward. He died in his home state of Texas and was proud of his Southern roots, latterly taking on the name 'Creole Joe' with his Zydeco band. For many years whilst in California he was a busy session player working with Marvin Gaye, BB King, Joni Mitchell, Quincy Jones, Steely Dan and many more.

Failing health meant Joe had to cancel a recent London date with Randy Crawford but two years ago when they performed together he spoke with Jazz FM's Michael Wilson at length about his music and influences. It's a lovely chat. Listen below.

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