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Joe Sample made his mark in music early on as part of the Jazz and Funk ensemble, The Crusaders. Today is the late Houston native and legendary keyboardist’s birthday.

Sample was born in 1939, and began studying the piano at five years old. He joined bands in high school and while at Texas Southern University. He moved west with a few of his college band members, forming the Jazz Crusaders in Los Angeles.

As the Crusaders began a prolific recording schedule, Sample became an in-demand session player for the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, and many other notable names. Sample also began releasing solo work in 1969, going on a creative tear in the ‘70s with the Crusaders and via his own albums.

Sample’s last album in 2015, “Christmas With Friends,” was recorded alongside India.Arie. In all, Sample released 24 albums to go with the dozens he recorded as a member of the Crusaders.

Last summer, Sample’s gravesite in Houston was marked with a massive headstone fashioned in the shape of a piano.

Joe Sample passed in 2014 at the age of 75.

PHOTO: Tom Beetz Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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