Sample’s manager, Patrick Rains, told The Associated Press that the iconic pianist died Friday at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston due to complications from lung cancer.
“At 9:50 p.m. (Houston, TX time), September 12, 2014, Joe Sample passed,” a message on Sample’s Facebook read. “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.”
Fans, who took to social media to show their support and send their condolences to Sample’s family, had been concerned about Sample’s health and well-being.
In August, Sample was scheduled to play at Ronnie Scott’s in London, but those dates were canceled.
Sample and the other founding members of The Crusaders are remembered for the way they managed to change music.
As Rains explained, The Crusaders were “a seminal figure in the transition from acoustic to electronic music in the jazz field in the late ’60s and early ’70s.”
The jazz funk fusion band also made history by becoming the first instrumental band to open for the Rolling Stones on tour.
Other major accomplishments include the band’s 19 albums, which soared onto the US Billboard top 200 chart.
Sample’s music was even influential in the realm of hip-hop.
Late rapper Tupac Shakur sampled a part of Sample’s In All My Wildest Dreams for his track Dear Mama.
Eventually, The Crusaders disbanded in the 1990s, which allowed Sample to focus on his solo career.
Live, the last album by Sample, was released in 2012 and featured his son playing bass and more collaborations with Randy Crawford.
Crawford frequently teamed up with The Crusaders and Sample. The songstress led The Crusaders on their smash hit Street Life in 1979.
The other founding members of The Crusaders were Stix Hooper, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson.