Joe Sample 1939 – 2014

I first met Joe in 2006, when we were preparing the release of the album he recorded with Randy Crawford ‘Feeling Good’ and they came to London to record an EPK. And then we met various times over the years, as after that I released on Emarcy their follow-up album ‘No Regrets’ and saw them a few times while touring that album around Europe … and had some unforgettable dinners in London at Fishworks in Marylebone, with great food, good wine and all the stories a life as a musician brings.

He enjoyed the food in that place so much, that I at the end of one of the dinners bought him the Fishworks Cookbook … and that was as well the place where we introduced him to the Spanish white wine Albarino and the Spanish Orujo, which is a form of Grappa from there. He simply loved to discover the good things in life.

Joe was always smiling, enjoying life and searching for more and new music inside him. A great sense of humour and a remarkable talent for telling stories made him the perfect companion … and then there was his music. Most people will remember him for the work with the Crusaders and the hits he wrote: from Street Life via One Day I’ll Fly Away to Rainbow Seeker and many others, but his trio recordings, like the Sonet album Fancy Dance or The Three with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne are definitely worth listening to, as is the beautiful solo album Soul Shadows.

Joe was also a highly requested studio musician, having recorded as well on the following albums: Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark” and “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” Steely Dan’s “Aja” and “Gaucho,” and on a few recordings by B. B. King.

2012 saw his last two recordings coming out in Europe – LIVE, a great concert recording with Randy Crawford, Joe’s son Nicklas on bass and Steve Gadd and ‘Children of the Sun’, an outstanding recording with the NDR Big Band performing his music and Joe on piano and keyboards – worth checking out.

Rest In Peace.

Joe Sample By Rainer Rygalyk

Photo by Rainer Rygalyk

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