Wilton Felder was an American saxophonist, bassist, and songwriter who gained fame as a member of the jazz-funk band The Crusaders. He was born on August 31, 1940, in Houston, Texas. Felder started his musical journey as a child by learning to play the piano, but later he switched to the saxophone, which became his main instrument. He joined his school band, where he honed his skills and began performing at various venues in Houston.
In the mid-1960s, Felder moved to Los Angeles and started working as a session musician. He soon caught the attention of jazz pianist Joe Sample, and together they formed the group The Jazz Crusaders. Later, the group changed their name to The Crusaders and became a major force in the jazz-funk genre.
Felder’s saxophone playing was characterized by his soulful tone and his ability to blend different musical styles. His melodic and rhythmic sense was a key part of The Crusaders’ sound, which was heavily influenced by soul and R&B music.
In addition to his work with The Crusaders, Felder had a successful solo career, releasing several albums under his own name. He was also a sought-after session musician, playing on recordings by numerous artists, including Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, and Randy Crawford.
Felder remained active in the music industry throughout his life, and in 2014 he released his final album, “We All Have A Star,” which was a tribute to the music of Donny Hathaway.
Wilton Felder died on September 27, 2015, at the age of 75. He was remembered as a gifted musician and an important figure in the history of jazz and funk music. His legacy continues to inspire saxophonists and music lovers around the world.
Page last updated 4/8/2023.