Joe Sample was born on 1 February 1939 in Houston, Texas. For more than fifty years he was a driving and defining force in contemporary jazz piano. He died in Houston on September 12, 2014 aged 75.
Joe began to learn piano at age 5. In Houston, he was exposed to all types of music: gospel, soul, bebop, blues, Latin and classical. After attending Texas Southern University, he was on one of the co-founders of the jazz / funk combo The Crusaders (originally the Jazz Crusaders)in the late 1950s. He started his career playing hard bop, but “went electric” with the commencement of the fusion era, especially when The Crusaders turned to jazz / funk in the early 1970s.
Joe kicked off his solo career in 1978. His career also features studio and concert work with Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Al Jarreau, Joe Cocker, Randy Crawford, Anita Baker, and Andre Crouch (uncle of Eric Clapton band member Kenneth Crouch).
Joe first worked with Eric during the 1997 Legends tour. He joined Eric’s band in October 1997 for the Far East Tour and worked Clapton on both the Pilgrim and Reptile CDs. Joe also joined Clapton and B.B. King in the studio for the Riding With The King sessions in February 2000.
It is interesting to note that guitarist Larry Carlton, who was a member of the jazz quartet Fourplay alongside Nathan East, joined the Crusaders in 1971 and recorded 13 albums with them.