×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Joe Sample, Iconic Jazz Pianist, Dies at 75

Legendary jazz pianist Joe Sample died on Friday morning in Houston. He was 75.

Sample, who revolutionized jazz fusion in the ’60s and ’70s, was also a keyboardist and composer for more than five decades, having worked with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker, Joni Mitchell and Canned Heat.

Sample’s family announced the news on Facebook, but didn’t mention the cause of death. The pianist was hospitalized last year with pneumonia after suffering from ongoing health issues, including heart attacks in 1994 and 2009.

“His wife Yolanda and his son Nicklas would like to thank all of you, his fans and friends, for your prayers and support during this trying time,” the Facebook post read. “Please know that Joe was aware and very appreciative of all of your prayers, comments, letters/cards and well wishes.”

Sample formed the band the Jazz Crusaders with his classmates, saxophonist Wilton Felder, drummer Stix Hooper, trombonist Wayne Henderson, and others, while studying at Texas Southern University in the mid-’50s. The group moved to Southern California and recorded their first album, “Freedom Sound,” in 1961. Nineteen of their 40-plus albums landed on the Billboard 200 chart.

The group changed its name to The Crusaders 10 years later after experimenting with other sounds like funk and R&B. They added an electric bassist and guitarist, and Sample started playing electric keyboards. They parted ways in 1987.

Sample also had a thriving solo career. He worked with other musicians to record 21 solo albums and appeared on classic pop-rock albums such as Joni Mitchell’s “Court & Spark” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

Sample was touring in Europe with his new group, the Creole Joe Zydeco Band, until recently. He had been collaborating with New England folk singer Jonatha Brooke on a biography about 19th-century New Orleans nun Henriette DeLille for the last 16 years.

More Music

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Will SmithNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Will Smith Joins Jaden to Perform 'Icon' at Coachella

    Parents just do understand the importance of Coachella. Jaden Smith was joined in the Sahara tent Friday night by father Will for a performance of “Icon” — as Instagrammed by the proud papa. The footage of Will Smith rapping was shot by Jaden, who turns his smartphone camera around just long enough to photobomb his [...]

  • Anderson .Paak performs at the Coachella

    Brandy, Jay Rock Help Anderson .Paak Light Up Coachella Weekend Two

    Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals took the Coachella stage at the second weekend of the storied fest as the sun descended, but the musician’s fiery set was more than enough to light up the audience. The performance, which featured pyrotechnics including fireworks and flames alongside the rapper’s slinky stage moves, was relatively heavy on [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale

    Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale Date

    The troubled Woodstock 50 festival has run into more difficulties, as multiple sources told Variety late Friday that the April 22 on-sale date for the event has been postponed. Agents for artists scheduled to perform at the festival — which include Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey — [...]

  • Sirius Logo

    SiriusXM Unveils $8 Essential Plan for Consumers Without Cars

    SiriusXM wants to cater consumers without cars, or cars without compatible stereos, with a new $8 plan for mobile and in-home listening. Dubbed SiriusXM Essential, the plan offers access to 200+ channels featuring the network’s entire music programming, as well comedy, news and select sports channels. Consumers will be able to test the new plan [...]

  • Adam Lambert, of Queen, performs at

    Adam Lambert Back to 'Idol' to Mentor Finalists Through Queen's Catalog

    Adam Lambert famously launched his career on “American Idol” a decade ago performing a brilliant audition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He wrapped that amazing eighth season performing with the band on the season finale, and years later earned his current spot as the front man touring as Queen + Adam Lambert. On April 28, Lambert comes full circle as he steps [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content