Earth, Wind & Fire
According to Rolling Stone, this band changed the sound of black pop in the early 70’s. The magazine described it as “innovative and precise but sensual, calculated but galvanizing”. Now there are other bands, who combine funk and latin rhythms with pop melodies and harmony singing, but Earth, Wind & Fire is the pioneer of the genre and much sampled by hiphoppers. Groundbreaking music, strong spiritual message and highly theatrical performing style, which sometimes included even magic tricks, became the trademarks of the band that has been inducted into several Halls of Fame.
Maurice White was a studio drummer at Chess and then belonged to pianist Ramsey Lewis’ Trio, which was very popular in the 60’s, before he founded EWF in 1969. Other members also came from jazz. The eponymous first album and The Need of Love, which also appeared in 1971, got great reviews. Miles Davis, Quincy Jones and Dionne Warwick were ardent fans, more recently Barack Obama, too.
Head to the Sky (-73) yielded 2 hits and became the real breakthrough, after which the band, having 7 consecutive albums in top ten, enjoyed massive success. Shining Star (-75), After the Love Has Gone (-79) and Let’s Groove (-81) were EWF’s biggest hits, but there were many others. Maurice White resigned from touring in 1994, but still works with the band as producer and songwriter. On stage EWF is now led by his bass player brother Verdine White and singer Philip Bailey, both of whom belonged already to the band’s classic team.