Maurice White, founder of legendary soul-funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, has died at his home here. He was 74.
White breathed his last on Thursday after a long battle with Parkinsons, which had plagued him since the early 1990s and forced him to stop touring in 1994, reports variety.com.
White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in Chicago in the late 1960s alongside his brothers Verdine and Fred and served as the band’s chief songwriter and producer.
He shared vocal duties with lead singer Philip Bailey. The group’s hits include “Shining star,” “September” and “Boogie wonderland.” 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 February 15.
The musician has seven Grammy wins and 21 nominations under his belt. EWF was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. White also appears in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame.
The band was known for its extravagant stage shows that included lightshows, fireworks and elaborate dance moves.
White started out as a jazz drummer and played percussion instruments for the band as well as providing vocals with Bailey. He produced many of Earth, Wind & Fire’s albums and also produced for artistes including Barbra Streisand.
Born in Memphis, White started singing in a church choir. He studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and began recording at the studios of Chess records with artists including Etta James.
He joined Ramsey Lewis’s trio and then in 1969 formed the Salty Peppers with friends Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead. After moving here, he found more success when the band was renamed Earth, Wind & Fire.
They had their first top 40 hit in 1974 with “Mighty mighty.”