Jazz pianist and Crusaders co-founder Joe Sample dead from mesothelioma at 75

The Crusaders co-founder also worked with Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Canned Heat, B.B. King, Steely Dan and Anita Baker, among others.
By Matt Bradwell  |  Sept. 15, 2014 at 8:06 AM
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HOUSTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Joe Sample, jazz pianist and founding member of the Crusaders, died Friday from mesothelioma. He was 75.

Sample was a student at Texas Southern University in the mid-1950s when he, saxophonist Wilton Felder, drummer Stix Hooper and trombonist Wayne Henderson formed the Jazz Crusaders. The band eventually dropped "Jazz" from their moniker, while introducing aspects of funk, rock and roll and rhythm and blues to their recordings.

"Unfortunately, in this country, there's a lot of prejudice against the various forms of music," Sample said to the The Los Angeles Times in 1985.

"The jazz people hate the blues, the blues people hate rock, and the rock people hate jazz. But how can anyone hate music? We tend to not hate any form of music, so we blend it all together. And consequently, we're always finding ourselves in big trouble with everybody."

As a solo artist, samples recorded with Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Canned Heat, B.B. King, Steely Dan and Anita Baker, among others and his work was famously sampled in Tupac's 1995 classic "Dear Mama.

At the time of his death, Sample was working with Jonatha Brooke and Marc Mantell on a musical called "Quadroon."

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