Maurice White, the founder and lead singer of Earth, Wind & Fire, has died.
White died at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, said his brother, Verdine White. He was 74.
A former session drummer, White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in the late 1960’s. The group went to sell more than 90 million albums worldwide, displaying a flashy and eclectic musical style that incorporated his influences from growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, and at the influential Chicago music labels Chess and Okeh.
White is also the older brother of current Earth, Wind & Fire member Verdine White, and former member Fred White. Maurice served as the band’s main songwriter and record producer, and was co-lead singer (along with Philip Bailey). White has won seven Grammys, and was nominated for 21 Grammys in total.
White was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the late 1980’s, which led him to eventually stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire in 1994. However, White retained executive control of the band, and remained active in the music business.
Besides his work with Earth, Wind & Fire, White also produced and wrote songs for other artists such as Barbara Streisand, Atlantic Starr, Deniece Williams, Neil Diamond, The Emotions, Jennifer Holiday…the list goes on and on.
Earth, Wind & Fire’s many hits included “September,” ”Shining Star,” a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You into My Life” and “Boogie Wonderland.” The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
Maurice has been called “an innovator” and “someone who has had a profound impact upon the music industry as a whole” by Chaka Khan and Lalah Hathaway believes that “his contribution as both a musician and a producer has been immeasurable”. Here’s a walk down memory lane with Maurice:
Earth, Wind & Fire – “September”
Earth, Wind & Fire – “Boogie Wonderland”