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Jazz Pianist Joe Sample Dies

HOUSTON, TX (CelebrityAccess) — Pianist Joe Sample, one of the founding members of the pop-funk-jazz group Jazz Crusaders, has died from complications of lung cancer. He was 75 at the time of his passing.

Sample's manager Patrick Rains released a statement about Sample's death: "At 9:50pm (Houston,TX time), September 12, 2014, Joe Sample passed. 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. Please know that Joe was aware and very appreciative of all of your prayers, comments, letters/cards and well wishes."

Sample, a native of Houston, started playing piano at the age of five. He went on to co-found the Jazz Crusaders (later known as just the Crusaders) along with Stix Hooper, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson that started out as a hard-bop focused group but eventually evolved into a jazz-funk fusion. The group released a large volume of music with 19 albums that made into Billboard top 200, finding the most commercial success their 1979 hit "Street Life" with Randy Crawford on vocals.

The Crusaders eventually broke up in the late 1980s after releasing "Life in the Modern World" but still got back together sporadically to record. The group reformed in 2003 to release "Rural Renewal" as the Crusaders and "The Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions" in 2005 as the Jazz Crusaders.

Services for Sample will be held on Sept 19th with the wake and viewing open to the general public at My Mother of Mercy Church, 4000 Sumpter St., Houston, TX, 77020. Instead of flowers, Joe's family asked fans to make donations to Joe Sample Youth Organization. – Staff Writers