Sunday, February 7, 2016

Earth, Wind & Fire’s Guiding Force Maurice White Dead at 74

Earth, Wind & Fire’s visionary co-founder and leader Maurice White moved up to the “upper room” on Thursday morning, Feb. 4, after a 25-year-long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 74. The multi-talented musician, producer, singer, bandleader and songwriter left behind an extraordinary musical legacy.

White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in 1969 in Chicago. At the time, he was already a seasoned musician with tons of studio work under his belt as a session drummer for Chess Records. With Chess, he played drums on songs by noted artists such as Fontella Bass, Etta James, the Impressions, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy. He also spent three years as a member of the celebrated Ramsey Lewis Trio before forming Earth, Wind & Fire.

EWF were one of the most successful and critically acclaimed bands in the world during the mid-1970s and early ‘80s—lighting up the planet with their powerful amalgam of funk, pop, jazz, Latin, gospel, African, blues, rock and soul. The band scored numerous hits on both the R&B and pop charts worldwide, including “Shining Star,” September,” Serpentine Fire,” “Fantasy,” Boogie Wonderland,” and “Let’s Groove.”

The band earned more than 50 gold and platinum album certifications and has sold in excess of 90 million albums worldwide. And their music has garnered a slew of music awards, including six Grammys and four American Music Awards.

As EWF’s guiding force and spiritual light, White brought his multifaceted skillset to the mix. In addition to being a gifted percussionist and drummer, he was a talented vocalist, dynamic performer, mean Kalimba player and highly skilled songwriter, producer and arranger.  His sterling production skills were one of the key components that helped set EWF apart from other bands and artists.

Earth, Wind & Fire's music was filled with spiritual and mystical elements. Their songs often contained inspirational messages of finding inner peace, hope, strength and self-worth through positive thoughts and energy. They also celebrated multiculturalism, African culture and racial unity in song.

In addition to setting the world on fire with EWF, White was also noted for his production work for renowned artists such as the Emotions, Deniece Williams, Barbra Streisand, Weather Report, Cher and Neil Diamond.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire in 2000 and individually into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.

Maurice White was a supernova in the music world, illuminating it with his immense talent, generous spirit and positive energy.

You're a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (what you could truly be)

EWF performing "Shining Star" live on The Midnight Special

"In Time" by EWF

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