Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums and made hits like “September,” “Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland,” died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his brother Verdine said.
White, who was 74, suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and had retreated from the public even as the band he founded kept performing.
“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” Verdine White, also a member of the band, told The Associated Press on Thursday. “While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”
Earth, Wind & Fire, a nine-piece band centered featuring the two White brothers, singer Philip Bailey and the distinctive horn section, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. The band’s most successful period started with the 1975 album “That’s The Way of The World” and continued through the rest of the decade. Other hits included “Serpentine Fire,” “That’s the Way of the World” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
Chris Rock tweeted his condolences Thursday with a photo of White and the lyrics, “You can’t hide love.” Nile Rogers called White “one of the most amazing innovators of all time” on the social media platform, while Diane Warren said “this world just got a lot less soulful.”
White publicly revealed he had Parkinson’s at the time of the band’s Hall of Fame induction, but he had shown symptoms of the neurological disease back in the 1980s. He stopped touring with the band in 1995 because of weariness from the road combined with his health problems.
White said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2000 that he wanted the band’s music to inspire instead of just entertain.
“That was the whole objective, to try to inspire young people to believe in themselves and to follow through on their ideas,” he said. “We’ve touched so many people with these songs.”
A former session drummer, White founded the band Salty Peppers in the Chicago area in the late 1960s and had some modest success in the Midwest. After relocating to Los Angeles and ditching all of the band members except Verdine, he renamed the outfit Earth, Wind & Fire after the three elements in his astrological chart.
Bailey’s bright falsetto defined many of Earth, Wind & Fire’s hits. “We experienced pure magic together,” Bailey said during the band’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, standing next to White.
The band’s early sound was jazzy, but evolved into an exuberant, horn-driven mix of jazz, funk, gospel and Big Band music. Their appeal wasn’t just on records but on stage, their concerts a whirl of dancing, fog machines, multi-colored lights and glittery costumes. Earth, Wind & Fire performed everywhere from the Super Bowl to the White House.
Maurice White also had a substantial side career producing other artists, including Barbra Streisand and Cher. In the 1970s, he co-wrote and co-produced the Emotions’ No. 1 hit “Best of My Love.”
White was born in Memphis in 1941, the son of a doctor and grandson of a New Orleans piano player. He showed musical gifts at an early age, studying at the Chicago Conservancy. During the 1960s, he backed Muddy Waters, the Impressions and others and worked as a session drummer in Chicago.
The band performed in the movie, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and had hits with the ballad “After the Love Has Gone,” “All ‘n’ All,” “Let’s Groove” and “Fall in Love With Me.” The band took a four-year hiatus in the 1980s and then returned, its primary success then on the road.
“We live in a negative society,” White told Newsweek at the height of the band’s success. “Most people can’t see beauty and love. I see our music as medicine.”
White’s memoir, “Keep Your Head to the Sky: My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire,” is scheduled to be released Sept. 13 by Amistad. The book features a forward by Steve Harvey and an afterword by David Foster.
Earth, Wind & Fire are to be honored at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 15.
WIP (Work in Progress) - Great Fairy Fountain (slowwww)
I have the first half of the piece up to speed and good to go but I need to slow down when practicing these measures that I have difficulty with… Hopefully I’ll have the full song ready (and of course smoother / faster than this) in a few days…
“In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.”
Every day on VGAA we post new, extracted artwork from a ton of old, classic games to allow anyone to use them for their own purposes. Using my own manuals and books, I work hard to extract the art at the best quality, and bringing all sorts of weird, rare artwork to the limelight.
This month we’ve got some great games - including Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Fatal Fury 2 GB, Bomberman NES, the Mario Picross series, Baku Baku Animal, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile, Pac In Time and Kirby’s Tilt N Tumble!
And over on Old Game Mags, we rummage throgh all the great 80′s and 90′s magazines to find fascinating articles, cover artwork and advertisements for the games of yesteryear, posting several times a day!
We’ll be going through some A copy of EGM, and an N64 Gamer!
Both blogs are maintained by just me - Ryan Langley, aka Rlan. It’s a lot of work maintaining, extracting and posting everything. If you like what I’m doing, you can support us on Patreon, where you can get updates on both blogs, as well as the original high resolution extracted art from VGAA! You can also do a single dontation from the main page of both blogs. Every dollar helps!