Mon, Sep 15, 2014 - Page 7 News List

US pianist, composer Joe Sample dies at age of 75


US pianist and composer Joe Sample performs at the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival on July 5, 2011, in Montreux, Switzerland.

Photo: AFP

Pianist and composer Joe Sample, a founding member of the genre-crossing Jazz Crusaders who helped pioneer the electronic jazz-funk fusion style, has died. He was 75.

Sample died of complications due to lung cancer on Friday evening at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, his manager, Patrick Rains, said on Saturday. Rains said Sample’s family was at his bedside.

Sample was “a seminal figure in the transition from acoustic to electronic music in the jazz field in the late ’60s and early ’70s” with his band, Rains said.

The group, which later called itself The Crusaders, became a successful crossover act with such hits as the 1979 rhythm-and-blues-flavored single and album Street Life. A few years before that, they were the first instrumental band to open for the Rolling Stones on tour.

A prolific songwriter, his songs were sampled by hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, who used In All My Wildest Dreams on his Dear Mama. Nicole Kidman sang Sample’s One Day I’ll Fly Away in director Baz Luhrmann’s film Moulin Rouge.

A Houston native, Sample teamed with high-school friends, saxophonist-bassist Wilton Felder and drummer Stix Hooper, to form a band as teenagers in the mid-1950s. Trombonist Wayne Henderson, a classmate at Texas Southern University, later joined the group, which became known as The Jazz Crusaders when the group later moved to Los Angeles.

In the early 1970s, Sample became one of the pioneers of the electric piano in jazz as he increasingly used the Fender Rhodes.

Sample was also an in-demand studio musician who worked with many well-known artists.

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