Music world loses R&B star Maurice White

The world of music lost funk legend Maurice White died Thursday morning at the age of 74 in his Los Angeles home. White, founder and leader of popular R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, suffered from Parkinson’s disease. White is remembered for his 53-year career in the music industry.

White was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, in the winter of 1941 where he was childhood friends with Booker T. Jones. In his teenage years, White traveled to Chicago where he worked as a session drummer for Chess Records. He started a songwriting tream with his friends, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead. White moved to Los Angeles where he added members to the group, including his younger brother, Verdine White, and renamed the group, Earth, Wind & Fire.

White helped the band release their debut album, also named Earth, Wind & Fire, in February 1971 that received critical acclaim. They went on to sell more than ninety million album copies over the course of their career, with hits co-written by White, such as “That’s the Way of the World,” “September” and “In the Stone”. The band gained rapid fame and were soon performing all over the world.

White was known for his tenor voice, producing beautiful contrast to Philip Bailey’s falsetto and for leading energetic, dynamic live performances.

The band is known for being a paradigm of funk in the ‘70s and ‘80s. With White as the bandleader, the group spearheaded new ideas and experimented with new sounds that would otherwise not exist. White is praised for his contributions to funk and soul music, which made the genres what they are today. EWF served as one of America’s top performing groups for many decades, with White leading the group to international stardom.

Maurice White alongside Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. White was personally nominated for 21 Grammy awards, of which he won seven. Additionally, he received a plethora of awards such as the ASCAP Pop Music Award, four American Music awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Verdine White said of his brother’s death, “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 and EWF will be honored at the Grammy awards on Feb. 15.