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)
Whittier, California, U.S.
Genres Jazz, R&B
Instruments Saxophone, bass
Years active Late 1950s–2015
Associated acts The Crusaders
Notable instruments
Fender Precision Bass

Wilton Lewis Felder (August 31, 1940 – September 27, 2015)[1] was an American saxophone and bass player, and is best known as a founding member of The Jazz Crusaders, later known as The Crusaders.


Felder was born in Houston, Texas, in 1940.[2] He studied music at Texas Southern University.[3] [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.[4] 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.

Felder died at his home in Whittier, California from multiple myeloma[3] on September 27, 2015. He was 75.[5][6]



  1. ^ a b Williams, Richard (October 8, 2015). "Wilton Felder obituary". The Independent. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  2. ^ IMDb.com
  3. ^ a b Slotnik, Daniel E. (October 3, 2015). "Wilton Felder, Saxophonist for the Crusaders, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 197. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ Colker, David. "Wilton Felder, musician who played on many pop hits, dies at 75". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  6. ^ Smith, William Michael (September 27, 2015). "Legendary Crusaders Sax Man Wilton Felder Passes Away". Houston Press. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 

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