Soul And / Or Related Artists
the crusaders

The Crusaders

The Crusaders were formed in 1960 in Houston, Texas, U.S.A.

The group comprised of:

Joe Sample (b. Joseph Leslie 'Joe' Sample, 1st February 1939, Houston, Texas, U.S.A., d. 12th September 2014, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. - keyboards)

Wilton Felder (b. Wilton Lewis Felder, 31st August 1940, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. d. 27th September 2015, Houston Texas, U.S.A. - tenor sax)

Stix Hooper (b. Nesbert 'Stix' Hooper, 15th August 1938, Houston, Texas, U.S.A. - drums)

Robert 'Pops' Popwell (b. Robert Popwell, 29th December 1950, Daytona, Florida, U.S.A. - bass guitar)


Wayne Henderson (b. 24th September 1939, Houston, Texas, U.S.A., d. 5th April 2014, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. - trombone)

The Crusaders hail from Houston in Texas.

Since 1961, the group (under various names) have released more than forty albums, 19 of which were recorded under the name 'The Jazz Crusaders' (in betweeen 1961 and 1970).

In 1954, keyboards player, Joe Sample teamed up with high-school friends, tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer Stix Hooper to, originally, form the Swingsters.

The group first played together in high school before relocating to Los Angeles in the early '60's.

As the Swingsters, they were joined by trombonist Wayne Henderson, flautist Hubert Laws, and bassist Henry Wilson and the group became the Modern Jazz Sextet.

The group then changed their name to the Jazz Crusaders.

The Jazz Crusaders signed with the Pacific Jazz label, where they remained for a decade, before simplifying their name to the Crusaders in 1971.

Freedom SoundLookin' Ahead

freedom sound - 1961 / lookin' ahead - 1962

At The LighthouseTough Talk

at the lighthouse - 1962 / tough talk - 1963

Their Early Pacific Jazz albums included 'Freedom Sound', 'Lookin Ahead', 'At The Lighthouse' and 'Tough Talk'.

HeatwaveStretchin' Out

heatwave - 1964 / stretchin' out - 1964

Chile Con SoulThe Thing

chile con carne - 1965 / the thing - 1965

Talk That TalkUh Huh

talk that talk - 1967 / uh huh - 1967

Lighthouse 68Powerhouse

lighthouse 68 - 1968 / powerhouse - 1969

Give Peace A ChanceOld Socks New Shoes

give peace a chance - 1970 / old socks, new shoes - 1970

Pass The PlateOne

pass the plate - 1971 / crusaders 1 - 1971

The Crusaders first album was entitled 'Pass The Plate' for the Chisa imprint, which was followed by a label change, to Blue Thumb/ABC, and a second album release, confusingly entitled 'Crusaders 1'.

The 2nd CrusadeUnsung Heroes

the second crusade - 1972 / unsung heroes - 1973


hollywood - 1973 / scratch - 1974

In 1972, they released '2nd Crusade', followed by 'Hollywood' (in 1973), 'Unsung Heroes' (in 1973) and 'Scratch' (in 1974).

By 1974, they had incorporated the electric bass and electric guitar into their music.

Bass guitarist 'Pops' Popwell and guitarist Larry Carlton joined the band, and featured on the group's albums throughout the latter part of the 1970's.

They developed a more crossover, jazz-funk style of appeal, and the group's recordings started to appear on the Billboard pop charts.

Joe Sample performed various extra curricular performances for many Soul artists, along with some soft Rock artists including Joni Mitchell ('Free Man In Paris').

Southern ComfortChain Reaction

southern comfort - 1974 / chain reaction - 1975

Those Southern KnightsFree As The Wind

those southern knights - 1976 / free as the wind - 1977

Further albums, 'Southern Comfort' (in 1974), 'Chain Reaction' (in 1975, including 'I Felt The Love'), and 'Those Southern Knights' (in 1976, including 'Spiral' and 'Keep That Same Old Feeling') were released before Wayne Henderson left the group to pursue solo recordings and production activities.

The Crusaders recorded two more ABC albums, 'Free As The Wind' (1977) and 'Images' (1978) before the label merged with MCA.

Pops Powell then left the group, and the Crusaders began to introduce vocals into their recordings.

ImagesStreet Life

images - 1978 / street life - 1979

The height of the group's commercial success came with 1979's 'Street Life', which peaked at number 18 on the pop album charts, and the title track from the album made the Top 10 on the R & B chart and number 36 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

The song featured the vocals of Randy Crawford, whose album 'Now We May Begin' the group produced and played on in 1980.

Rhapsody And BluesStanding Tall

rhapsody and blues - 1980 / standing tall - 1980

Also in 1980 they employed the vocal skills of Bill Withers on 'Soul Shadows' for their new album 'Rhapsody & Blues'.

In 1981, 'I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today' featuring the vocals of Joe Cocker, reached the U.K. Top 75.

In 1982 the Crusaders produced 'Don't Take Your Love To Hollywood' for Kelly Marie.

Another founding member, Stix Hooper, left the group in 1983 and three more albums were recorded in the mid-1980's.

Stix Hoopper was replaced with drummer Ndugu, and returned with the album 'Ghetto Blaster' in 1984, (including 'Night Ladies' - U.K. Top 75).

In the meantime Will and Joe both recorded solo albums.

Ndugu performed on a final Crusaders album for MCA, 'The Good And Bad Times', which was released in 1986, and included 'The Way It Goes' featuring Nancy Wilson.

Ghetto BlasterLife In The Modern World

ghetto blaster - 1984 / life in the modern world - 1988

In 1988, the group released 'Life In THe Modern World', that featured vocal and writing contributions from Ivan Lins ('Life In The Modern World' and 'Some People Never Learn') and Lamont Dozier ('Let Me Prove Myself Tonight').

In the 1990's, the group, for the most part, had disbanded.

Wayne Henderson and Wilton Felder did, however, have a reunion as the Crusaders.

In 2003, founding members Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Stix Hooper revived The Crusaders and released 'Rural Renewal'.

Ray Parker Jr. and Eric Clapton played guitar on the album.

Also in 2003, a Wayne Henderson-led Jazz Crusaders released 'Soul Axess'.

The Jazz Crusaders have released six albums since 1995.

Joe Sample pursued a successful solo career, working with Randy Crawford (two albums in 2006 and 2008 respectively).

In 2014, both Wayne Henderson and Joe Sample sadly passed away.

In 2015, Wilton Felder sadly passed away.

Real Player


as the Jazz Crusaders:

Freedom Sound (Pacific Jazz Records 1961)

Looking Ahead (Pacific Jazz Records 1961)

The Jazz Crusaders at the Lighthouse [live] (Pacific Jazz Records 1962)

Tough Talk (Pacific Jazz Records 1963)

Heat Wave (Pacific Jazz Records 1963)

Stretchin' Out (Pacific Jazz Records 1964)

The Thing (Pacific Jazz Records 1964)

Chile con Soul (Pacific Jazz Records 1965)

Live at the Lighthouse '66 (Pacific Jazz Records 1966)

The Festival Album [live] (Pacific Jazz Records 1966)

Live at Newport (Pacific Records 1966)

Talk That Talk (Pacific Jazz Records 1966)

Uh Huh (Pacific Jazz Records 1967)

Powerhouse (Pacific Jazz Records 1968)

Lighthouse '68 [live] (Pacific Jazz Records 1968)

Live Sides (Blue Note Records 1968)

Lighthouse '69 [live] (Pacific Jazz Records 1969)

Give Peace a Chance (Liberty Records 1969)

Old Socks, New Shoes (Chisa Records 1970)

as the Crusaders:

Pass the Plate (Chisa Records 1971)

1 (MCA Records 1971)

The 2nd Crusade (Chisa Records 1972)

Unsung Heroes (MCA Records 1973)

Hollywood (MoWest Records 1973)

Scratch (MCA Records 1975)

Those Southern Knights (MCA Records 1975)

Chain Reaction (MCA Records 1975)

Free as the Wind (MCA Records 1976)

Southern Comfort (MCA Records 1976)

Images (MCA Records 1978)

Street Life (MCA Records 1979)

Rhapsody & Blues (MCA Records 1980)

Ghetto Blaster (MCA Records 1980)

Standing Tall (MCA Records 1980)

Live in Japan (GRP Records 1981)

Royal Jam (MCA Records 1981)

Ongaku Kai: Live in Japan (Crusaders Records 1982)

Vocal Tape (MCA Records 1983)

The Good and the Bad Times (MCA Records 1986)

Life in the Modern World (MCA Records 1988)

Healing the Wounds (GRP Records 1991)

Happy Again (Sin-drome Records 1994)

Soul Shadows (Alex Records 1995)

And Beyond (Music Club Records 1995)

Louisiana Hot Sauce (Sindrome Records 1996)

Break'n Da Rulz! (Crash Records 1998)

Power of Our Music: The Endangered Species  (Crash Records 2000)

Rural Renewal (Verve Records 2003)

Groove Crusade (Blue Thumb Records 2003)

as the Jazz Crusaders (with Wayne Henderson):

Happy Again (Sin-drome Records 1995)

Louisiana Hot Sauce (Sin-drome Records 1996)

Soul Axess (True Life Records 2003)

The Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions (Mosaic Records 2005)

Alive in South Africa (True Life Records 2006)

At the Lighthouse (Live 2006)

top of the page

SoulwalkingStart HereThe ArtistsListen Out ForThe ChartBeen MissedRespectReal AudioOpinionNetworkJazz & FusionLinksMotown