In just the first few weeks of 2016, we’ve bid farewell to Natalie Cole, David Bowie, DJ Big Kap, journalist Michael J. Feeney, photographer Leila Alaoui, Blowfly, and a host of others whose influence on everything from politics to pop culture will not soon be forgotten.
And on February 3, 2016, we said goodbye to one of music’s premiere architects, Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White. The Memphis, TN native was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1992, and although he retired from touring and performing in 1995, he’d remained an active and vital member of the music community. White’s brother, Earth, Wind & Fire member Verdine White, said that White passed away at his Los Angeles home. Maurice White was 74.
White, who began his music career as a session drummer working on records by the likes of Etta James and Muddy Waters before joining the Ramsey Lewis Trio, revolutionized R&B and soul music when EWF debuted in the late 1960s. Comprised of a multi-faceted band that fused multiple music genres into what would become their distinct sound, EWF quickly rose to notoriety on the strength of songs such as “September,” “Shining Star,” “After the Love Has Gone,” and dozens of hits that carried the band through the 1970s, into the ‘80s and ‘90s, and well into the 21st century. The six-time Grammy Award-winning band scored dozens of nominations and hit singles throughout the years, releasing more than 20 studio albums over the span of 40-plus years. Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and in 2010 White was honored with a place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
While the front man for EWF, Maurice White also wrote and produced material for artists such as Deniece Williams (1975’s This is Niecey), The Emotions (“Best of My Love”), and Barbra Streisand (“Time Machine”).
With timeless jams like “That’s the Way of the World,” “Let’s Groove,” “Boogie Wonderland,” the Philip Bailey-led “Reasons,” and so many other gems that have formed the sonic backdrop of our lives, Maurice White lives on in our hearts and memories, and in the melodies he brought to life. SoulTrain.com extends our deepest condolences to Maurice White’s family and loved ones as we remember the man who told us to “keep your head to the sky.”