By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
Maurice White — the founder of soul group Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) and music producer for the three-part 1994 Gatchaman OVA series — has died. White’s brother Verdine posted earlier today on EWF’s official Facebook:
“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep. 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.”
White died in his sleep in Los Angeles, California on Thursday morning and he was 74. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1992 but his condition got worse over the last year
Earth, Wind & Fire had a string of hits including “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “After the Love Has Gone,” and “Shinning Star.” The group has to date, sold over 90 million albums worldwide.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Maurice White was inducted individually into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.
White has worked with some of the best recording artists in the business including The Emotions, Cher, Neil Diamond, James Ingram, and Barbara Streisand. Recording Artist and songwriter David Foster, who wrote EWF’s hit “After the Love Has Gone,” called Maurice White “my mentor.”
Foster once said of White, he was “a man who taught me more about making music, about decency, about calmness, about well-being, and about the true spirit of music.”
As a bandleader and producer of most of EWF’s albums, the group saw six Grammy Awards out of 14 nominations, four American Music Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. White produced other albums outside of EWF including co-producting the soundtrack to Tatsunoko Productions‘ Gatchaman OVA series with Bill Meyers, who has worked with artists Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. One of the memorable songs from the album, “Let’s Fly,” was composed by White.
White was born in 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee where he was exposed to music at an early age. His father was a doctor and an occassional saxophonist. In his teen years he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he found work at Chess Records as a session drummer. White can be heard on recordings by such artists as Etta James, Muddy Waters, The Dells, Buddy Guy, and The Impressions.
White’s work in Earth, Wind & Fire will be honoured posthumously at the Grammy Awards where the band will be given a Lifetime Achievement Award during the Ceremony’s February 15th broadcast.
“Let’s Fly” performed by Lance Matthew. Music by Maurice White and Bill Meyers with lyrics by Brock Walsh.
Source(s): Rolling Stone, Mikal Gilmore, The New Mexican, American Press, BBC News, The Official Maurice White Myspace Page, Darius Washington, and the Retro Anime Club (RAC) Facebook group.
Photo Source(s): Bruce W. Talamon.