Monday 26 September 2016

Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White dies aged 74

Published 05/02/2016 | 06:21

Maurice White pictured in 2003 - the founder of Earth, Wind, & Fire has died aged 74 (AP)
Maurice White pictured in 2003 - the founder of Earth, Wind, & Fire has died aged 74 (AP)

Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, whose band sold more than 90 million albums and had hits including September, Shining Star and Boogie Wonderland, has died at his home in Los Angeles.

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White, who was 74, suffered from Parkinson's Disease and had retreated from the public even as the band he founded kept performing.

"My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep," Verdine White, also a member of the band, said.

"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."

Earth, Wind & Fire, a nine-piece band featuring the two White brothers, singer Philip Bailey and a distinctive horn section, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

The band's most successful period started with the 1975 album That's The Way Of The World and continued through the rest of the decade.

Other hits included Serpentine Fire and a cover of the Beatles' Got To Get You Into My Life.

Chris Rock tweeted his condolences with a photo of White and the lyrics, "You can't hide love".

Nile Rogers called White "one of the most amazing innovators of all time" while Diane Warren said "this world just got a lot less soulful".

White publicly revealed he had Parkinson's at the time of the band's Hall of Fame induction, but he had shown symptoms of the neurological disease back in the 1980s.

He stopped touring with the band in 1995 because of weariness from the road combined with his health problems.

White said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2000 that he wanted the band's music to inspire instead of just entertain.

"That was the whole objective, to try to inspire young people to believe in themselves and to follow through on their ideas," he said. "We've touched so many people with these songs."

A former session drummer, White founded the band Salty Peppers in the Chicago area in the late 1960s and had some modest success in the Midwest.

After relocating to Los Angeles and ditching all of the band members except Verdine, he renamed the outfit Earth, Wind & Fire after the three elements in his astrological chart.

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