“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep”, Verdine White told the Associated Press on Thursday.
“While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes.”
Maurice White died in his sleep in L.A., Thursday morning after a long battle with Parkinson’s. A battle which got him to the point he had to leave the band 2 years after having been diagnosed back in 1992…
Maurice was born in Memphis,TN in 1941 to a father who was a doctor and occasional saxophonist. A childhood friend of Booker T, he moved to Chicago in his teenage years where he found work as a session drummer for Chess Records. There, he played along with artists such as Etta James, Ramsey Lewis and Muddy Waters. And also The Impressions, The Dells, and Buddy Guy to name but a few. Eventually collaborating with Fontella Bass on ‘Rescue Me’ and Billy Stewart on ‘Summertime’.
1966 saw him joining the Ramsey Lewis Trio, replacing Isaac ‘Red’ Holt as their new drummer. Three years after, he formed The Salty Towers with Wade Felmons and Don Whitehead. Receiving moderate success, Maurice decided migrate from Chicago to Los Angeles. There, he altered the name of the band to Earth, Wind & Fire, therefore reflecting the elements his astrological chart.
It’s also him who brought the kalimba (also known as the African thumb piano) as a part of the signature sound of the band. Not to mention the incorporation of the Phenix Horns and Earth, Wind & Fire Horns. A horn section one might also remember for their collaboration with Phil Collins on his 1985 ‘No Jacket Required’ album…
Earth, Wind & Fire remain most likely synonymous with flamboyance, both on stage as musically speaking. From the beauty of their vocal arrangements. With thanks to the contrasting vocal performances of falsetto singer Philip Bailey and contralto Maurice White. To the obvious dynamic of their repertoire. Blending elements of Soul, Jazz, Funk, African Music and eventually Electronic (cf. ‘System of Survival).
As a result, they are synonymous with an unvaluable series of classics. From ‘Devotion’ to ‘Sing A Song’, ‘Can’t Hide Love’ or ‘Shining Star’. But also ‘Getaway’ (which the Salsoul Orchestra eventually covered), ‘September’, ‘Fantasy’ or Boogie Wonderland’. And we could also add ‘After The Love Has Gone’ and ‘In The Stone’. Not to mention ‘This Is Niecy’ or ‘Best Of My Love’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love’. As many albums which they produced respectively for Deniece Williams and The Emotions.
The band, which has sold more than 90 million albums worldwide, is set to be honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 15.
Indamixworldwide would like to express their deepest condolences to Maurice White‘s family and friends.
With eternal love,