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Maurice White, the founder of the horn-driven band Earth, Wind & Fire, died on Feb. 03, 2016. He has been hailed by many as one who inspired positivity throughout his illustrious career. He was 74 and suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which significantly curtailed him from touring and appearing in public.
“My brother, hero, and best friend passed away peacefully in his sleep,” his brother and band mate, Verdine White, stated when he announced to the world the tragic news. He also said this was a “difficult and life-changing period” for the family and asked for “privacy and respect” as they deal with the monumental loss.
Earth, Wind & Fire is reported to have sold close to 100 million albums, stretching from the successful acts of the 1970s. The band’s most fruitful period began with the 1975 album, That’s The Way of The World, on the back of evergreen hits, such as Shining Star, Boogie Wonderland, and September. In 2000, the nine-piece band, largely dominated by the two White brothers and singer Philip Bailey, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. It is the lingering sound of the distinctive horn section, spiced up with the African thumb piano and drums, which created everlasting memories for many fans. Added to that, White, of Earth, Wind, & Fire, will be fondly remembered as a musician who inspired positivity.
Additionally, White will be remembered for breaking racial barriers. His music was embraced by all races, despite the apparent social antagonism spiked by the civil rights campaigns and riots in the 1960s. The band became the first African-American music group to sell out Madison Square Garden. Since then, the iconic band has performed almost everywhere in America. They have entertained spectators at the Super Bowl and were invited to the White House by President Barack Obama in 2009. In one interview with Newsweek, the funk legend described his music as “medicine” that will heal “[a] negative society.” He also told the Associated Press in 2000, that the main objective of the band was to “inspire young people” to have self-belief and confidence. Such words by White, of Earth, Wind & Fire, have arguably inspired positivity across all races.
Raised in Chicago, the affable artist showed musical talent at an early age. In his early days, he worked as a session drummer, before founding the band Salty Peppers in the late 1960s. This was a stepping stone to more musical greatness for White, who then relocated to Los Angeles with his brother, Verdine, and founded Earth, Wind & Fire. According to media reports, the name was inspired by “three elements in his astrological chart.”
Many have hailed White for his musical prowess. The Recording Academy hailed him as the musician and showman who propelled Earth, Wind & Fire to international fame. The academy, which has awarded the singer with seven Grammys, stated that the legend has influenced a lot of musicians. This is evidenced by the fact that the multi-talented artist was also a producer for Chaka Khan and Cher. Moreover, he was behind the success of the Emotions’ hit song Best of My Love, which he co-wrote and produced. May Maurice White’s soul rest in eternal peace and the world hopes that the remaining members of Earth, Wind & Fire will continue inspiring positivity.
By Shepherd Mutsvara
Edited by Leigh Haugh
Fox News: Earth, Wind & Fire Founder Maurice White Dies at 74
BBC: How Maurice White Made a Force for Positivity
Washington Post: White, Founder of Earth, Wind and Fire Shaped The Essential Playlist of Black Lives
Image Courtesy of Chris Hakkens’ WikiMedia Page – Creative Commons License