R.I.P. Wilton Felder, 75, saxophonist for the Crusaders

Wilton Felder



R.I.P. Wilton Felder, 75, saxophonist for the Crusaders and bassist on many groundbreaking songs, like I Want You Back by the Jackson 5 and Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye. I enjoyed his cool polished tenor tone–songs like Street Life and Put It Where You Want It come to mind–and his warm flat wound picked precise bass lines always grabbed my ear. I’m guessing he’s already reunited with his fellow Crusader band mates who are in Heaven, ready to make a joyful sound

Wilton Lewis Felder (born August 31, 1940, Houston, died 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, 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 continues to work in its current versions, which often feature 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, California, in the early 1970s. He played on recordings by the Jackson 5 such as “I Want You Back” and “The Love You Save,” for Marvin Gaye and Grant Green. He has also played bass for soft rock groups like America and Seals and Crofts. Also of note was his contribution 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) andJoan 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 plays a King Super 20 tenor sax with a metal 105/0 Berg Larsen mouthpiece. He has also used Yamaha saxes. He plays a Fender Precision bass, and has also played Aria bass guitars.



  • 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 John Cale

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Richard “Groove” Holmes

With Milt Jackson

With Shuggie Otis

With Grant Green

With John Klemmer

With Charles Kynard

With Joni Mitchell

With Jimmy Smith


  1. Jump up^ IMDb.com
  2. Jump up^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 197. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]


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