Let’s Groove, Shining Star, Boogie Wonderland, September – these pop and disco hits by the US group Earth, Wind & Fireplace are among the many hottest from the Nineteen Seventies to 80s period. The funky, versatile drummer on all of them was Fred White, who has died aged 67.
Exuding pleasure, creativeness and unity, EW&F, as their followers known as them, made music that emphasised good occasions each on the dancefloor and off. A mix of soul, funk, jazz, Latin, Afro and pop, with easy vocals, dynamic brass preparations, dance-club pleasant rhythms and catchy choruses, the information nonetheless sound contemporary at present and stay a staple at weddings, sports activities occasions and celebratory events.
The band was the brainchild of Fred’s elder half-brother, Maurice White. Fred – who modified his surname to White, as did his bassist brother, Verdine Jr, to stress his fraternal relationship with Maurice – joined EW&F in 1974, after the band’s breakthrough album – their fifth – Head to the Sky (1973).
Knowledgeable because the age of 15, White – described as a ‘“musical prodigy” by Maurice – had beforehand performed on Donny Hathaway’s superlative Dwell album (1972), and with the rock band Little Feat, showing on their 1974 album Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.
Maurice, in the meantime, had had greater than a decade’s expertise as a drummer – each for Chess Information and the jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis – when he shaped Earth, Wind & Fireplace in 1970, the title coming from his astrological chart. As singer, co-drummer, songwriter and producer, Maurice was the boss, initially altering report labels and changing members furiously, holding solely Verdine on bass.
Noting Fred’s capacity to play throughout genres, Maurice invited him to hitch the band. With Ralph Johnson already on drums, and Maurice becoming a member of them behind his package throughout each reside performances and studio classes, EW&F have been a formidable rhythmic outfit. After Fred joined, finishing a lineup of eight musicians and a three-piece horn part, Maurice introduced he lastly had the band he had at all times wished.
September by Earth, Wind & Fireplace, 1978, that includes Fred White on drums, and his brothers Maurice, on vocals, and Verdine, on bass
In his posthumously revealed autobiography, My Life With Earth, Wind & Fireplace (2016), Maurice wrote: “Fred was the brick wall. He offered a rock-solid tempo and a rock-solid really feel, priceless qualities in a drummer. He was the most effective issues going for us.”
The band’s first album to function Fred, That’s the Approach of the World (1975, initially conceived as a soundtrack to a forgettable movie), topped each the US Billboard and Soul album charts, with the primary single from it, Shining Star, additionally topping each charts and successful that yr’s Grammy award for greatest R&B efficiency by a duo or group. The follow-up album, Gratitude, launched later the identical yr, offered greater than 3m copies within the US.
Spirit (1976) was the primary to interrupt by means of within the UK, with the only Saturday Nite reaching No 17 within the charts. The follow-up LP, All ’N All (1977), went Prime 20 within the UK, and any more EW&F would commonly place albums and singles within the UK charts, their music interesting equally to pop, disco and jazz-funk followers, whereas their spectacular reside performances – Fred’s drum package would rise within the air, spin round and switch the wrong way up, all whereas he saved drumming – offered out arenas.
Maurice’s curiosity in Egyptology and science fiction noticed the stage set contain alien craft and pyramids, whereas the band, wearing platform boots and glossy outfits, cooked up an enormous funk sound that turned each live performance into a celebration. Amongst their many hits, virtually all written by Maurice and Verdine (with contributions from different band members), have been the dancefloor favorite Boogie Wonderland (1979, that includes the feminine vocal trio the Feelings), the dynamic September (1978), the soulful ballad After the Love Is Gone (1979), the funk anthem Let’s Groove (1981) and Acquired to Get You Into My Life – a canopy of the Beatles’ music that was their contribution to the 1978 movie Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership.
Born in Chicago, Fred was the youngest of three sons of Edna (nee Parker) and Verdine Adams, a physician and newbie saxophone participant. Maurice was Edna’s son from a earlier marriage. Fred took up the drums aged 9, quickly following his older brothers into the music trade. Because the youngest member of EW&F, White was each its jester and troublemaker, his power and conceitedness firing up the band. He initially drummed alongside Johnson however, by 1977, insisted that he be the band’s sole drummer, so Johnson was shifted to percussion.
His headstrong behaviour would trigger him to return into battle with Maurice – tensions noticed the bandleader announce a hiatus in 1984, and Fred was not invited to rejoin in 1987 once they reformed. After leaving EW&F he led a life exterior the highlight. In 2000, Fred, alongside along with his brothers and 6 different band members, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame.The band’s chart standing waned as musical tastes modified however, with gross sales of greater than 90m albums, alongside a whole lot of tens of millions of 45s, they continue to be in style, their hits commonly heard throughout radio, TV and movie. Verdine, because the final unique member, continues to tour Earth, Wind & Fireplace.
Maurice died in 2016. White is survived by Verdine Jr and by his sister Geri.
Frederick Eugene (Adams) White, musician, born 13 January 1955; died 1 January 2023