Wilton Felder, saxophonist and bass player best known as a member of the Crusaders, and occasional session player, died on Sunday at the age of 75. According to Houston Press, no cause of death was given.
The Houston-born musician was one of the founders of the Crusaders, forming the group while in high school, initially calling it the Jazz Crusaders, and throughout the 1960’s were known for their blend of hard bop, R&B and soul. By the 1970’s, the name was shortened to the Crusaders, and they adopted a jazz-funk sound, which brought them bigger commercial success. The apex of that came in 1979, when their Street Life album (made with singer Randy Crawford), was a top twenty pop album, and the title track went top forty.
In addition to being a member of the Crusaders, Felder also worked as a studio musician. He was a bass player for Motown Records, when the label moved from Detroit to Los Angeles, working with artists including the Jackson 5 and Marvin Gaye. Felder also worked with rock acts, working on albums from Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and Joan Baez. He also played bass for groups America and Seals and Crofts.
While still a member of the Crusaders, Felder embarked on a solo career in 1978. His most significant album (according to Wikipedia.org) was his 1985 album Secrets, which featured Bobby Womack on vocals.
Felder is the third Crusaders member to pass away. Members Wayne Henderson and Joe Sample passed in 2014.