The founder of the highly successful soul and funk band Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice White, has passed away. He was 74.
White was born on December 19, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee and started his musical career as a jazz session drummer. In 1969 he started the group that would eventually win six Grammy Awards and bring them fame around the word and even a concert at the White House for President Barack Obama in February 2009.
Earth, Wind and Fire had several albums released in the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until they performed at the California Jam in 1974, followed by the release of their album, That’s the Way of the World in 1975, that they became the mega-band of the 70s. The biggest hit of the album — and of their career as a band — is “Shining Star,” which became an anthem for many years.
EWF, as it became known, has sold over 90 million albums worldwide, with seven albums reaching the top ten on the Billboards 200 or UK Album Charts.
The band has had many personnel changes over the years, but Maurice White has been the center, the leader of the band since it’s inception in Chicago. Besides six Grammys with EWF, White has won two as a solo artist.
A jazz drummer at heart, White incorporated the sounds and rhythms from a variety of genres, including jazz, rock, blue, R&B, funk and what later became known as world music. White and EWF were innovators and much of the R&B and disco music that followed owed in some small part, their success to White and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Maurice White died in his sleep, at his home in Los Angeles, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease; February 4, 2016.
Top photo: Maurice White performing with EWF in 1982 (Wikipedia).
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