Maurice White Of Earth, Wind & Fire Dead At Age 74

by Raheem Karim
maurice white

Maurice White founder of the supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire, singer, drummer, songwriter and producer died in his sleep Thursday morning at the age of 74.

Maurice died in L.A. after a long battle with Parkinson’s. He was diagnosed in 1992 and his condition deteriorated in recent months. The disease had progressed to the point he was forced to stop touring with the band 1994.
The band had a string of hits, including “Shining Star,” “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” and “After the Love has Gone.”
In 2000, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Maurice was individually inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.

Maurice’s brother, Verdine, is also a band member. Although Maurice wasn’t touring, he remained involved in the decisions regarding the band.

Early Life and Career

Singer, songwriter, producer and drummer Maurice “Reese” White was born on December 19, 1941, in Memphis, Tennessee. After studying at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, he found work in 1963 as a session drummer for Chess Records. Four years later, he began playing with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. In 1969, he formed his own band in Chicago, which was called the Salty Peppers.

Earth, Wind & FireAfter a move to Los Angeles, White renamed his band as Earth, Wind & Fire (the name was a nod to his astrological chart, which had no water signs). He also invited his younger brother, bassist Verdine, to join the group. When their first albums didn’t break out, White shuffled the band’s members. Newcomers included singer Philip Bailey and keyboardist Larry Dunn; soon guitarist Al McKay became a bandmate as well.Along with its revamped membership—only White and Verdine were holdovers from the group’s first incarnation—Earth, Wind & Fire’s music changed. The band began mixing jazz, R&B, funk, soul and pop music. They also used African sounds, such as White playing the kalimba (an African thumb piano). With a new style and a new record label, Earth, Wind & Fire’s album Head to the Sky (1973) sold more than 500,000 copies. The group proceeded to put out a succession of gold and platinum albums throughout the 1970s and early ’80s.Many of the band’s hit songs were ones that White helped compose, such as “Shining Star,” “September” and “Let’s Groove.” White won six Grammys with Earth, Wind & Fire, and received an award of his own for arranging “Got To Get You Into My Life.” As a musician and vocalist, White also participated in the group’s spectacular concerts, which featured exotic touches such as pyramids and disappearing acts.

Though he spent time on outside projects—such as an album for Deniece Williams—White remained with Earth, Wind & Fire until the band took a four-year break from 1983 to 1987. After reuniting, White toured with the group until 1995. Though he stopped touring, he continued to work with Earth, Wind & Fire as a producer and songwriter. He was also with the band for its 2000 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Later CareerIn 2000, White revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, thus explaining his decision to withdraw from performing. He has said that not going on tour gave him the benefit of having more time to work on other projects. These included building a recording studio and founding Kalimba Records, his own record label. He also collaborated on Hot Feet, a musical set to Earth, Wind & Fire songs. In 2010, White was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.He is one of the greatest musicians of our time and will be missed. R.I.P

You may also like

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. You can find out more about the cookies we use. By continuing to use the website, you accept our use of cookies. Accept Read More

-
00:00
00:00
Update Required Flash plugin
-
00:00
00:00