Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White Dies at 74

Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White Dies at 74
Maurice White, co-founding vocalist of R&B greats Earth, Wind & Fire, passed away early this morning (February 4) following a long battle with Parkinson's disease, his brother Verdine has confirmed. The musician was 74 years old.

"My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep," Verdine White posted on Facebook. "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."

Born in Tennessee, Maurice White would move to Chicago in his teens, getting an early boost in the music business as a session drummer for Chess Records, playing on singles with Etta James, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Ramsey Lewis and more.

He'd join the Ramsey Lewis Trio as a drummer in 1966, but by 1969 he had formed a new group called the Salty Peppers with Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead. They'd later move to Los Angeles and rebrand as Earth, Wind & Fire, and release a self-titled debut in 1971.

By the mid '70s, the nine-piece, horn-heavy funk group landed their first number one single, "Shining Star," with other hits from the late '70s and early '80s including "Sing a Song," "Boogie Wonderland," "September," "Let's Groove" and more.

Hit albums included 1975's That's the Way of the World, 1977's All 'N All, 1980's Faces and 1981's Raise.

White's prolific recording career also contained one self-titled solo album, which was released in 1985.

White was diagnosed with Parkinson's in the late '80s, and retired from touring with Earth, Wind & Fire in 1994. He'd continue to compose and produce for the group, as well as work with the likes of Barry Manilow, the Urban Knights, Barbara Streisand and more.

Along with the rest of Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Other acclaims include a Grammy win in 1978 for the band's cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life," four American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more. The band had sold more than 90 million records worldwide.