Jazz-Funk Pioneer Joe Sample Dies

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 at age 75.

His manager, Patrick Rains, said Saturday that Sample died of complications due to lung cancer Friday evening at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, with his family at his bedside.

Rains says 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, which later called itself The Crusaders. The group became a successful crossover act with such hits as the 1979 single and album Street Life.

Photo: KEYSTONE/Martial Trezzini/AP, file
Performing during the 40th Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland.

His songs were also sampled by hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, who used Sample’s “In All My Wildest Dreams” on his “Dear Mama.”