Joe Sample dead at 75: The piano star was known for pushing boundaries of jazz

Legendary pianist Joe Sample, who was known for pushing the boundaries of jazz music, passed away Friday night in his hometown of Houston at the age of 75, his family announced on Facebook.

The keyboardist, who collaborated with artists like Miles Davis, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and Steely Dan, was best known as the founder of the Crusaders, a quartet that popularized a soulful, funky sound in the 1960s and ’70s.

Sample’s ear for grooves resulted in the sampling of many of his songs by hip-hop artists, the most famous of which, “In All My Wildest Dreams,” was sampled by Tupac in his track, “Dear Mama.”

Sample said he made up his mind at age 14 to be a musician.

“Music was the only fun anyone had in their life at that time,” Sample told the magazine Wax Poetics, describing how his upbringing in Segregation-era Houston made his genre-bending music second nature. “Everything about the history of my family has always been mixed: the races, the food, the language — everything. It’s very natural.”

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