Our musical heroes are leaving us. Maurice White was one of mine. As the leader of the group I grew up loving—that would be Earth, Wind & Fire—he as leader and his band as instrument were a powerful force in R&B for years. Those years coincided with the time that I found and became passionate about the group.
If he had done nothing more than play drums behind Ramsey Lewis and lots of artists at Chess Records back in the 60s, his name would be well known. But the fact that he founded Earth, Wind & Fire and guided them to superstardom and sales of over 90 million records made him a legend. White passed in his sleep early this morning at the age of 74. He had been battling Parkinson’s disease for over two decades, the progression of which forced him from touring with the band back in 1994.
I’ve already written a bit about my love for EW&F in this Flashback Friday post from a few weeks ago. And while that post speaks a bit about their decline, today I want to celebrate the joy the band’s music brought me over the years. The first album I ever owned was an Earth, Wind & Fire album. The first live recording I ever listened to was an Earth, Wind & Fire album. Even the few 8-track tapes that I had included a few from EW&F. And as the years went on, a new release from them was cause for celebration. Throughout the 70s, the hits just kept coming. I worked backwards from That’s The Way Of The World to discover the older tracks, then kept going forward as the top ten hits piled up.
2016 has proven to be a tough year for fans of music. So many of our heroes have gone on and left here. This one hurts, for me. I don’t have anymore words to offer besides these: may you rest in peace, brother. I’ll let these tunes (on many of which he sang lead) I choose to remember him by speak for me.