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RIP Maurice White, aged 74

Earth, Wind & Fire founder died at home of Parkinson's disease

2016 Feb 05     
2 Bit Thugs

He will be remembered as the driving force behind one of black music's most influential and enduring acts

Some sad news today: Maurice White, founder of legendary funk, soul and disco band Earth, Wind & Fire, passed away at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He was 74 years old and had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for many years.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1941, White was a childhood friend of Booker T Jones (of 'and the MGs' fame). He started out in music as a session drummer for iconic blues and soul label Chess Records, working with the likes of Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Muddy Waters and The Dells, as well as playing bass on Fontella Bass's soul classic Rescue Me. By 1966, he'd become a full-time member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, playing drums on northern soul fave Wade In The Water and recording nine albums with the Trio in total.

He formed Earth, Wind & Fire in 1969, and the band would go on to have a string of hits in the 1970s and 80s, including Boogie Wonderland, Let's Groove and September. The band took their name from the 'elemental triplicity' of White's star sign (Sagittarius), and their album covers often reflected astrological and Afrofuturist themes. His worsening Parkinson's disease meant White had to stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire in 1994, but he still retained 'executive control' over the band, which has been led since 1994 by his younger brother Vernon. They are still touring today.

As a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and received six Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Earth, Wind & Fire have also been sampled in countless hip-hop, R&B, house and drum & bass tracks over the years.

Pic: Maurice White on stage with EW&F in 1982. © Chris Hakkens/Creative Commons.





Tags: Earth Wind & Fire, Maurice White, Booker T & The MGs, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Chess Records