Wilton Felder

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Wilton Felder
Wilton Felder.jpg
Wilton Felder in 1978
Background information
Birth name Wilton Lewis Felder
Born (1940-08-31)August 31, 1940
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Died September 27, 2015(2015-09-27) (aged 75)
Genres Jazz, R&B
Instruments Saxophone, bass
Years active Late 1950s–2015
Associated acts The Crusaders
Notable instruments
Saxophone, Bass

Wilton Lewis Felder (August 31, 1940 – September 27, 2015) was an American saxophone and bass player, and is best known as a founding member of The Jazz Crusaders, later known as The Crusaders.


He was born in Houston, Texas, in 1940.[1] Felder, Wayne Henderson, Joe Sample, and Stix Hooper founded the group while in high school in Houston. The Jazz Crusaders evolved from a straight-ahead jazz combo into a pioneering jazz-rock fusion group, with a definite soul music influence. Felder worked with the original group for over thirty years, and continued to work in its later versions, which often featured other founding members.

Felder also worked as a West Coast studio musician, mostly playing electric bass, for various soul and R&B musicians, and was one of the in-house bass players for Motown Records, when the record label opened up operations in Los Angeles in the early 1970s. He played on recordings by The Jackson 5 such as "I Want You Back" and "The Love You Save", as well as for Marvin Gaye and Grant Green. He also played bass for soft rock groups like Seals and Crofts. Also of note were his contributions to the John Cale album, Paris 1919, and Billy Joel's Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade albums. He was one of three bass players on Randy Newman's Sail Away (1972) and Joan Baez' Diamonds & Rust. Felder also anchored albums from Joni Mitchell and Michael Franks.

His solo album, Secrets, which prominently featured Bobby Womack on vocals, reached No. 77 in the UK Albums Chart in 1985.[2] This album featured the minor hit, "(No Matter How High I Get) I'll Still be Looking Up to You", sung by Womack and Alltrinna Grayson.

Felder played a King Super 20 tenor sax with a metal 105/0 Berg Larsen mouthpiece. He also used Yamaha saxes. He played a Fender Precision bass, and also played Aria bass guitars.

He died on September 27, 2015, aged 75.[3]



  • Bullitt (Pacific Jazz, 1969)
  • We All Have a Star (MCA, 1978)
  • Inherit the Wind (MCA, 1980)
  • Gentle Fire (MCA, 1983)
  • Secrets (MCA, 1985)
  • Love Is a Rush (MCA, 1987)
  • Nocturnal Moods (PAR, 1991)
  • Forever, Always (PAR, 1992)
  • Lets Spend Some Time (BCS, 2005)

With The (Jazz) Crusaders

With John Cale

With Michael Franks

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Grant Green

With Richard "Groove" Holmes

With Milt Jackson

With John Klemmer

With Charles Kynard

With Carmen McRae

With Joni Mitchell

With Shuggie Otis

With Seals & Crofts

With Jimmy Smith

With Gerald Wilson

With Hugh Masekela


  1. ^ IMDb.com
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 197. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ William Michael Smith, "Legendary Crusaders Sax Man Wilton Felder Passes Away", Houston Press, September 27, 2015

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