Street Life

The crusaders

Jazz Funk, & Being 17

It was 1979 and I was 17 yrs old when this tune hit the charts, a track I never tire of hearing to be honest. Oh Yes, I’m talking about the Crusaders featuring Randy Crawford and ” Street Life “!

I remember rushing out to ‘Moondogs Record Shop’ in East Ham and bought it on 12″, and played it to death, I saved my pennies to buy the album on import. (The 12” single – street life)

The Crusaders were originally called the Jazz Crusaders prior to 1971, they shortened it after 11 yrs. The Crusaders were a real talented group starting out in the 60’s as a jazz band, but these guys changed all that, they were also one of first creators of funk. They  adopted a jazz – funk style of music, which was starting to take off both in the states and here of coarse in the UK.

The Crusaders were a formidable outfit, consisting of none other than Joe Sample (on piano)  Stix Hooper ( on drums ) Wilton Felder ( saxaphone ) and Wayne Henderson ( on trombone ) they went on to also incorporate the services of bass guitarist Robert powell and guitarist Larry Carlton. The group’s sound was a hard bop but had emphasis of R&B and soul that eventually transformed to the jazzy funk sound we know today.

Street life the single was taken from there same named titled album  Crusaders Street Life 300s. With the Crusaders new sound,  they increased their crossover appeal and seemingly the group’s recordings started to appear rapidly on the billboard pop charts. At their height of the group’s success came their 1979 single street life, this time they featured Randy Crawford on lead vocals.

( photo below still in my collection  the import album)

The crusaders

The jazz crusaders went on to become a solid force where they started to merge their jazz sound with elements of funk and soul. Street life peaked No 18 in the pop album charts and this title track from the album also made top ten on the R&B chart at No 36 on billboards hot 100 chart. They recorded 3 more albums from the mid 80’s but sadly by the 90’s the crusaders had mostly disbanded but with a most comprehensive discography behind them. In 1991  the crusaders with Joe sample and wilton felder the only remaining original members released an album titled ” Healing the wounds “.




Which peaked at No 1 on the contemporary jazz charts  and at No 174 on the billboard 200 after that the group never released anymore albums during the decade the guys went on to do solo work,which i might add was very successful.  I think you’ll agree that the crusaders and  jazz crusaders left us with some very memorable pieces of music that we still enjoy very much to this day.


The crusaders album street life 300s incorporated some true all Round talent in its making not only the band itself of sample – stix – and felder but the foresight of featuring Randy Crawford as lead vocals but also behind the scenes bringing in Arthur Adams  –  James jamerson jnr and paulinho da Costa all of which contributed in the making of this real gem of an album and i think you will agree it still stands the test of time.

Kelvin Page