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Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 US Open August 25, 2008.
Background information
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres R&B, funk, soul, jazz, disco
Years active 1969–present
Labels Warner Bros., Columbia, Sanctuary
Associated acts Ramsey Lewis, The Pharaohs, Charles Stepney, Phenix Horns, The Emotions, Caldera (band), Chicago
Website www.earthwindandfire.com
Members
Maurice White
Philip Bailey
Verdine White
Ralph Johnson
John Paris
B. David Whitworth
Greg "G-Mo" Moore
Morris O' Connor
Gary Bias
Bobby Burns Jr.
Krystal Bailey
Kim Johnson
Reggie Young

Earth, Wind & Fire is an American R&B band formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1969 and led by founder Maurice White. Also known as EWF, the Elements or the Elements of the Universe, the band has won six Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards. They have been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.[1][2] Having sold over 90 million albums worldwide has earned them a place on the list of best-selling music artists, where they are ranked as the seventh best selling American band of all time.[3][4] Rolling Stone has described them as "innovative, precise yet sensual, calculated yet galvanizing" and has also declared that the band "changed the sound of black pop".[5] In 1998, they were ranked at number 60 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Rock N' Roll.[6]

The band's music contains elements of African, Latin American, funk, soul, pop and rock music, jazz and other genres, as well. The band is known for the dynamic sound of their horn section and the interplay between the contrasting vocals of Philip Bailey's falsetto and Maurice White's tenor.[7] The kalimba (African thumb piano) is played on all of the band's albums.[8]

Contents

Career

Early years

In 1969, Maurice White, a former session drummer for Chess Records and member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, joined two friends in Chicago, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, as a songwriting team composing songs and commercials in the Chicago area. The three friends got a recording contract with Capitol, and called themselves the "Salty Peppers," and had a marginal hit in the Midwestern area called "La La Time."[9]

The Salty Peppers' second single, "Uh Huh Yeah," didn't fare as well, and Maurice left Ramsey Lewis Trio and decided that it was time for a change of location from Chicago to Los Angeles. White added to the band singer Sherry Scott and percussionist Yackov Ben Israel both from Chicago, and then asked his younger brother Verdine how he would feel about heading out to the west coast. June 6, 1970, Verdine left Chicago later joining the band as their new bassist. Maurice began shopping demo tapes of the band that also featured the talents of Donny Hathaway around to different record labels and was then signed to Warner Bros. Records.[9][10]

Maurice, based on the fact that his astrological sign of Sagittarius had a primary elemental quality of Fire and seasonal qualities of Earth and Air (hence the omission of Water, the fourth classical element), changed the band's name, to Earth, Wind & Fire. With him on the drums and mbira, Maurice held auditions in L.A. adding Michael Beale on guitar, Chester Washington on reeds, and Leslie Drayton on trumpet and as the group's musical arranger. Trombonist Alex Thomas and Wade Flemons playing the electric piano and vocals, completed the lineup and so a ten member Earth, Wind & Fire was born.[7][11]

The band's self-titled debut album, Earth, Wind & Fire, was released February 1971 to great critical acclaim, as was November 1971's The Need of Love. Both of these albums were produced by Joe Wissert and a single, from The Need of Love called "I Think About Lovin' You" provided EWF with their first Top 40 R&B hit. In 1971, the group also performed the soundtrack to the Melvin Van Peebles film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song,[7] which was recorded at the Paramount Recording Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard and released on Stax records and the band also developed a growing popularity on college campuses. However, some members of EWF were restless and the band broke up after having been together for less than six months. With only Verdine left Maurice decided to re-form the group and he started holding auditions.

The switch to Columbia/CBS Records

In 1972 Maurice added to the band vocalist Jessica Cleaves who was a former member of the R&B group The Friends of Distinction, Ronnie Laws on the flute and the saxophone, rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, percussionist Ralph Johnson and vocalist and Denver native Philip Bailey. Warner Brothers did not know how to promote this new combo as the only other funk band on their label was Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.[7]

The band won an audition for managers Bob Cavallo and Joe Ruffalo, which was successful, and Cavallo's management of John Sebastian led to a series of gigs as opening act for the popular pop/folk singer. A performance at New York's Rockefeller Center introduced EWF to Clive Davis, who was then the President of Columbia Records. Davis was very impressed with the band's performance and bought their contract from Warner Bros. Their debut album on CBS/Columbia Records Last Days and Time featured mostly original material, but Bailey had recommended that the band cover the Pete Seeger song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?," and the elements also remade the Bread hit "Make It with You".[10][11]

Classic Period (1973–1980)

On the cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's album, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1, the Egyptian God Horus represented as a hawk holding Shen rings in its talons is the band's official symbol.

The album Head to the Sky was released in the spring of 1973 and with this album, some personnel changes took place as Ronnie Laws and Roland Bautista had left to pursue new musical opportunities. Philip Bailey had recommended a former Denver East High School classmate, saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk, as another addition to the band. Woolfolk had been busy in New York studying sax with sax maestro Joe Henderson and was about to start a career in banking when Bailey called. Guitarists Al McKay, who had been performing with The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band and Johnny Graham, from R&B favorites, New Birth, rounded out the lineup.

Head to the Sky gave the group their first two legitimate hit singles, "Evil", which was co-written by Maurice and Philip, and "Keep Your Head to the Sky", both of which reached the top 30, the top 60 and the R&B pop charts respectively. Jessica Cleaves left the band after the release of the album and it was the last to be produced by Joe Wissert. As some of the band's songs required lower vocals than that of Bailey's, and due to the success of "Evil", Maurice altered his role in the group to lead vocalist.

Recorded at the Caribou Ranch Studio located in Colorado and released in 1974, the album Open Our Eyes was another commercially successful LP. At Maurice White's request, Producer and songwriter Charles Stepney began his work with EW&F co-producing this album with White. Stepney had previously worked with The Dells, Terry Callier, Minnie Riperton and the Ramsey Lewis Trio.[4] May 1974 the single "Mighty Mighty" became Earth, Wind & Fire's first top 30 hit on the pop charts, peaking at No.29. Another single, "Devotion", was a song with a strong spiritual message. This album also saw the inclusion into the band of Maurice's younger brother, Fred White, who had played in Chicago clubs as a drummer with Donny Hathaway and later with Little Feat.[7]

April 6, 1974, Earth, Wind & Fire performed at the California Jam, a West Coast rock festival that attracted an audience of 200,000.[12] Also in 1974, the band collaborated with Ramsey Lewis on his album Sun Goddess, which reached number one on the Billboard Jazz and Black Album charts and has been certified gold in the U.S.

In the same year, Earth, Wind & Fire worked with Sig Shore, the creator of the motion picture Super Fly, on a new film about the dark side of the recording industry. That's The Way Of The World starred Earth, Wind & Fire as "The Group", a new recording act. In the film, Harvey Keitel hears "The Group" performing, and produces their first album. The film's title is repeated throughout the film as a shrug of the shoulders to the music world. Earth, Wind & Fire performed the songs in the film and Maurice had a small speaking part, as leader of "The Group".[7] When the band saw the film, they were convinced that the motion picture would be a box office bomb, so they released the album's soundtrack before the premiere of the movie.[11] The film was produced by Maurice White and Charles Stepney, recorded at the Caribou Ranch Studio and was an eventual flop. However, the movie's soundtrack, which was also titled That's the Way of the World, became Earth, Wind & Fire's breakthrough album.[13]

Called "one of the strongest albums of the 70's" and "EWF's crowning achievement" by Allmusic's Alex Henderson and described by Billboard Magazine as "a very tightly produced and performed package",[14][15] That's the Way of the World included the hit singles "Shining Star" and "That's the Way of the World" and because of the album, EWF became the first black act to top both the Billboard album and singles charts.[7][16] The origins of "Shining Star" came during a nightly walk by Maurice during the band's recording of "That's the Way of the World", when upon looking up towards the starry sky, he became inspired and took his concepts for the song to the other band members.[13] With the success of "That's The Way Of The World", the band could then afford a full horn section called the Phenix Horns, which had become an integral part of the band's sound and was composed of saxophonist Don Myrick, trombonist Louis Satterfield, both from Maurice's Chicago session dates, and trumpeters Rahmlee Davis and Michael Harris.

After returning from their first European dates with Santana, Columbia Records wanted another album released and so the band's new album sessions June 1975 produced "Sing a Song" and "Can't Hide Love", the latter written by Clarence "Skip" Scarborough.[10] These songs were included along with other studio songs on Gratitude, a double album comprised mostly of live concert material from their 1974 and 1975 tours, which stayed at number one on the pop and R&B charts for three weeks. In addition, with the release of Gratitude, the Phenix Horns got their first album credits. Also in 1975, Earth, Wind & Fire won Down Beat magazine's Readers Poll for favorite Rock/Blues Group.[17]

Maurice created and developed Kalimba Productions in late 1975, two acts that he had signed were vocalist Deniece Williams, a former member of Stevie Wonder's Wonderlove backup group, and the girl group, The Emotions, who had a run of hits with Stax Records from 1969 to 1974. Maurice also loaned the band's signature Phenix Horns and most of the band members to his other production projects and put on tour some of the acts that he was also producing at the time. In 1976, Charles Stepney, after helping co-produce and arrange Earth, Wind & Fire's incomplete album, Deniece Williams's debut album, This Is Niecy, and The Emotion's first Columbia Records album Flowers, died of a heart attack May 17 in Chicago at the age of 43. He was survived by his wife Rubie, his three daughters, Eibur, Charlene and Chante, his parents and his brother.[18]

Maurice then took over the production duties of Kalimba Productions for Earth, Wind & Fire and completed the recording of the band's new album, Spirit, which was released October 1976. EWF paid tribute to Stepney in the form of the album[19] and included were the hit singles "Getaway" and "Saturday Nite". "Getaway" was one of the small number of hits written by someone from outside the group as Verdine White heard "Getaway" for the first time from Chuck Davis who was producing Bobbi Humphrey. Maurice got with Melvin Ware who produced the song on his artist "Beloyd" and they struck a publishing deal. Maurice thought the song would be a good fit for EWF, so the band took it into the studio and recorded the song.[7][20]

The band's concerts during this time were loaded with pyrotechnics, magic, laser lights, flying pyramids, levitating guitarists and elaborate production tricks, that included the entire group ascending in a pyramid and a disappearing act, which saw EWF literally vanishing from sight. Magician Doug Henning directed many of their tours throughout the 1970s with his young assistant, David Copperfield. Their concerts were choreographed by George Faison.[7][21]

November 1977, the group released another studio LP, All 'N All. Starting with this album, the Japanese artist Shusei Nagaoka began doing the artwork and the illustrations for several of Earth, Wind & Fire's album covers.[22] With its Egyptian/African themed album cover, All 'N All featured the hit singles "Serpentine Fire" and "Fantasy", and has achieved triple platinum status. In 1978, EWF picked up three Grammy Awards, the third for their version of The Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life". This song, as well as the band, were featured in the movie, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. The film itself was a commercial bomb; however, "Got to Get You into My Life" was the biggest hit from the movie's soundtrack, reaching numbers one and nine on the R&B and Pop singles charts, respectively.

1978 was also the year that Maurice and managers Cavallo and Ruffalo worked out a deal for the launch of a new record label called The American Recording Company (ARC), to be distributed through CBS and the creation of a recording studio, George Massenburg/ARC also called "The Complex" in West Los Angeles. The year ended with another hit single, "September", which was added to the quintuple platinum compilation album, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1, and was released November 23, 1978, just four days before Thanksgiving.

At this time, Bobby Harris of the Dazz Band requested and got Philip Bailey to produce the group's first album, Kinsman Dazz. Bailey would also co-produce the second album, Dazz and had a major input into the group's vocal arrangements.[23] In 1979, the band performed "September" and "That's The Way Of The World" at the Music for UNICEF Concert, which was broadcast worldwide from the United Nations General Assembly for NBC.[24] The band donated their royalties from one of their songs to UNICEF.

1979 also saw the release of I Am, the group's ninth album, their seventh for Columbia and their second to be released on the ARC label. Songs from the album included "In the Stone", "Can't Let Go" and the much-anticipated, but sad ballad, "After the Love Has Gone" by David Foster, which went to the number 2 spot on the Billboard Pop and R&B charts and won for the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group at the Grammy Awards of 1980.

Early 1979 saw the band touring overseas, headlining shows in Europe and Japan. Though the band had previously overlooked disco, the summer of 1979 saw EWF topping the dance music charts with their most disco inspired single "Boogie Wonderland", which was produced by Maurice and Al McKay, and featured The Emotions. Even with the song's success, Verdine White claims that band is not a disco band, saying "I guess you could say we were at the party but didn’t get on the dance floor".[25][26]

The double-album Faces, the group's tenth album, was released October 1980 and went gold. In a 2007 interview, when asked which EWF album is his favorite, Maurice White replied "Probably Faces because we were really in tune, playing together and it gave us the opportunity to explore new areas".[27] After the release of this album, longtime rhythm guitarist Al McKay left the band to pursue production interests and was replaced by returning electric guitarist Roland Bautista, giving the band a bit of a hard rock feel. Phil Collins saw EWF while they were on one of their European tours and came in contact with the Phenix horns, where they later worked on Genesis songs like "No Reply At All" and "Paperlate", and on his solo hits, like "I Missed Again" and "Sussudio".

Electronic Period (1981–1987)

The platinum Raise!, EWF's eleventh album was released in the fall of 1981 and it featured their million selling hit single "Let's Groove", and the Grammy Award winning "Wanna Be With You". October 30, 1981, Earth, Wind & Fire appeared at American Bandstand's 30th Anniversary Special where they performed Let's Groove.[28]

Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the Oakland Coliseum in 1981

Powerlight was released in early 1983 and included the hit singles "Fall In Love With Me" a number 17 pop hit, and "Side By Side." "Powerlight" went gold. Also in 1983, Earth, Wind & Fire contributed the song "Dance, Dance, Dance" to the soundtrack of the animated film Rock & Rule. Maurice put the band on hiatus in 1983 after the synthesized Electric Universe was released in late 1983 to a poor critical and commercial reception. Maurice White attributes the album's lack of success to its release so quickly after Powerlight.

During their hiatus, Philip Bailey released his second and most successful solo project, the gold album Chinese Wall, which also featured the Phenix Horns. The first single from that Phil Collins produced album, a duet with Collins called "Easy Lover", sold over a million copies and also reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The music video of Bailey and Collins rehearsing their collaboration hit #1 on MTV's video playlist, and won an MTV video music award. During this period, Bailey also released a number of gospel albums, and one of them, Triumph, won him a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Vocal Performance, Male. Also, during the hiatus, Verdine White worked behind the scenes, writing and directing videos. He produced the Level 42 album,Standing in the Light and promoted go-go bands like Trouble Funk and E.U.[7]

Maurice White during this time produced for Barbra Streisand on her platinum album Emotion and worked with Neil Diamond on his gold album Headed for the Future and Cher on her 1987 platinum album Cher. He also released the solo album Maurice White in 1985, which included a cover of "Stand by Me", which went to number 6 on the R&B charts and number 11 on the Adult Contemporary charts. The album also featured an appearance by noted jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright. The compilation album The Collection was released May 1986 and this album went to number 5 on the UK singles charts for two weeks and was certified gold in the UK by the British Phonographic Industry.

In 1987, CBS Records convinced Philip Bailey and Maurice White that a reunion of Earth, Wind & Fire would be beneficial for all parties. Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Andrew Woofolk would also return and new to the group were guitarist/vocalist Sheldon Reynolds, lead guitarist Dick Smith, drummer Sonny Emory,and a new horn section dubbed the Earth, Wind and Fire Horns made up of Gary Bias on the saxophone, Ray Brown on the trumpet and flugelhorn and trombonist Reggie Young. The band's reunion fostered the 1987 Gold album Touch the World, which went onto number 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number 33 on The Billboard 200. Featured on the album was a song penned by an unknown songwriter by the name of Skylark called "System of Survival". Released as a single the song became a hit reaching number one on the Billboard R&B charts and Dance charts, and another single called "Thinking Of You" peaked at number one and number 3 on the R&B and Dance charts.

Later Career (1988–2003)

The band continued to release new albums, including the compilation album The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 2 released in 1988. Their final Columbia album was 1990's Heritage, which featured a collaboration with Sly Stone of Sly & the Family Stone. 1993 saw the Warner Bros. release Millennium. The single "Sunday Morning" from Millennium gained a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. The album also featured the Prince written track Super Hero. July 30, 1993, Phenix Horns saxophonist Don Myrick was fatally shot by the Los Angeles Police Department in a case of mistaken identity and October 13, 1993, former Earth, Wind & Fire member Wade Flemons died from cancer in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Earth, Wind & Fire star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In 1994, Earth, Wind & Fire were inducted into the NAACP Hall Of Fame. September 15, 1995, Earth, Wind & Fire was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[29] All the original members of the group showed up. Maurice White attributed EWF's success to the support of their fans. During this time, Maurice White retired from touring with the band for health reasons, concentrating more on producing and developing new Earth, Wind & Fire recordings and working with other artists. Philip Bailey was then given the role of onstage leader of the band. The studio album In the Name of Love was released in 1997 on Pyramid Records. EWF performed at the 1997 Montreux Jazz Festival and gave an encore performance the following year. Their performance was released on the DVD Earth, Wind & Fire: Live At Montreux 1997. In 1999 Earth, Wind & Fire performed on the A&E Network show Live by Request.[30]

Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame March 6, 2000, by rapper Lil' Kim to a standing ovation. The band's original members Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Al McKay, Larry Dunn, Andrew Woofolk, Fred White and Johnny Graham played together for the first time in 20 years at the ceremony performing Shining Star and That's The Way Of The World.[2] After their induction into the Hall of Fame an effort was made by the original band members to have a full reunion but it didn't work out.[31] June 20, 2000, Earth, Wind & Fire were the special musical guests at a White House state dinner hosted by President Bill Clinton held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House, held in honor of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco and Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem.[29][32] So impressed was he by the band's performance that the king personally requested that Earth, Wind & Fire perform in Morocco for his 37th birthday celebration, which took place August 21, 2000.[33]

In 2001, EWF released a biography of the band, Shining Stars: The Official Story Of Earth, Wind & Fire, directed by Kathryn Arnold. Following the September 11 attacks, the band members donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross at a September 13 show at the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater in Virginia, which was the band's first concert since the events took place.[34]

February 24, 2002, Earth, Wind & Fire performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah.[35] Maurice White released on his own label Kalimba Records the album Live In Rio in 2002, a live album from the band's 1980 performance in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

June 17, 2002, EWF accepted the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The award was presented by Jimmy Jam, ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman and Stevie Wonder.[36] In 2003 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Earth, Wind & Fire were also inducted into Hollywood's RockWalk July 7, 2003.[37]

The Promise, the band's first studio album in six years was released in 2003. The Promise received critical acclaim upon its release with Blender Magazine calling the album "a classy collection" and People Magazine describing The Promise as "musically rich".[38][39] The Promise included songs reminiscent of classic EW&F such as the kalimba laden track "All in the Way", which reunited EWF with The Emotions, and Betcha' and also on it were two previously unreleased songs from the "I Am" sessions titled "Where Do We Go From Here" and "Dirty". The Promise went to number 19 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and the song Hold Me from The Promise was Grammy nominated for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.

Current Career (2004–present)

February 8, 2004, Earth, Wind and Fire with Maurice White showing up performed alongside OutKast, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and Parliament Funkadelic in a Tribute to Funk at the 46th annual Grammy Awards. They sang Shining Star solo, and then at the request of Outkast teamed up with them to croon The Way You Move.[21][40]

Mid 2004, Earth, Wind & Fire signed an exclusive record deal with Sanctuary Urban Records Group, owned by Mathew Knowles, father and manager of rhythm and blues musician Beyoncé. May 4, 2004, Earth, Wind and Fire contributed to the Jimi Hendrix Tribute Album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix with a cover of Voodoo Child (Slight Return). September 28, 2004, Queen Latifah released her album The Dana Owens Album, which featured Gary Bias and Bob Burns Jr. of the Earth, Wind and Fire Horns. The album reached number 16 and 11 on The Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts and went gold. November 23, 2004, Kenny G released the album At Last...The Duets Album featuring Earth, Wind & Fire on the track The Way You Move, which was released as a single and went to number 12 on the Adult Contemporary singles chart.

December 11, 2004, Earth, Wind and Fire were honored at the first annual Grammy Jam held at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles where several artists of which included Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, Sheila E., Miri Ben-Ari,George Duke, Kanye West and Randy Jackson performed EWF songs. The event also saw celebrities of which included Pamela Anderson, Tim Allen, Prince,Mathew Knowles, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Nick Cannon and Suzanne de Passe attend.[41] December 31, 2004, EWF performed at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.[42] and January 19, 2005, the band featuring Kenny G performed The Way You Move on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[43]

The Grammy-nominated single Show Me the Way, released in 2004, was featured on the studio album Illumination, which was released September 20, 2005. On this album EWF collaborated with artists such as Will.i.am, Kelly Rowland, Big Boi of Outkast and Brian McKnight. Illumination reached number 8 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Chart and number 32 on the Billboard 200 and the single Pure Gold from the album reached number 23 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. Allmusic's Rob Theakston referred to the album as an "outstanding record" and USA Today's Steve Jones wrote that on the album EWF are as "vibrant as ever".[44][45] The album got a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album and EWF were also nominated for a Soul Train Music Award in the category R&B-soul album, group, band or duo for Illumination and also received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Duo or Group.[46]

February 6, 2005, Earth, Wind and Fire performed at the Super Bowl XXXIX pregame show in Jacksonville, Florida along with the Black Eyed Peas. The performance consisted of Where Is the Love? and the classic Shining Star.[47][48] March 2005 EWF performed in Russia for the first time.[29]

In 2004 Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago embarked upon a joint tour. The tour gave rise to the DVD Live at the Greek Theatre, which was released June 28, 2005, and was certified platinum just two months after its release. Chicago and EWF toured together again in 2005 and Earth, Wind & Fire collaborated with Chicago for a new recording of Chicago's ballad "If You Leave Me Now" that was included on Chicago's 2005 compilation album Love Songs.

September 18, 2005, they performed along with the Black Eyed Peas as part of an opening act for the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards. Their performance marked the first time a musical artist has opened at the annual Emmy Awards show.[29] September 27, 2005, former Earth, Wind and Fire member and member of the Phenix Horns trombonist Louis Satterfield died. For the 2005 holiday season, David Foster, Maurice White and Philip Bailey wrote the Christmas-themed track Gather Round, which was produced and arranged by Foster. The song was placed onto the album Sounds of the Season: The NBC Holiday Collection.[49] Maurice worked with Gregory Hines's brother, Maurice Hines in 2006 to release the Broadway play Hot Feet, a jukebox musical featuring the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. White wrote several new songs along with Allee Willis for the play.

February 11, 2007, EWF along with Mary J Blige and Ludacris performed the song Runaway Love at the 49th Grammy Awards.[50]

Maurice was the executive producer of an album "Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire", released March 27, 2007. It featured cover versions of Earth, Wind and Fire's songs performed by artists such as Chaka Khan, Kirk Franklin, Lalah Hathaway, Mint Condition and Angie Stone. From this album renditions of "That’s The Way Of The World" performed by Dwele and Fantasy performed by Meshell Ndegeocello were each nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

April 25, 2007, the band was the opening act for the highly touted and publicized special edition of the reality TV series American Idol, "Idol Gives Back" where they performed a medley of "Boogie Wonderland", "Shining Star" and "September".[51] December 11, 2007, Earth, Wind & Fire performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, which took place in Oslo, Norway, and was hosted by Kevin Spacey and Uma Thurman and also featured other performances by Melissa Etheridge, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox and Kylie Minouge. The Nobel Peace Prize Concert was broadcast to over 100 countries.[52]

February 20, 2008, Earth, Wind and Fire performed at the Viña del Mar Festival, in Viña del Mar, Chile on the festival's opening night. For their performance the public awarded them with the "Gaviota de Plata" or the Silver Seagull, the highest award that can presented to an artist performing at the festival, which is one of the largest musical events in Latin America.[53][54][55]

May 18, 2008, Maurice White, Ralph Johnson, Philip Bailey and Verdine White each received an honorary degree from the Arts and Media College at Columbia College Chicago during the college's 2008 commencement exercises. Verdine and Philip both gave remarks during the ceremony, which was followed by an impromptu performance of Shining Star by all four.[56] August 25 EWF performed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 US Open, which was hosted by Forrest Whitaker. The event commemorated the 40th anniversary of the founding of tennis’s Open Era with a parade of more than 25 former US Open singles champions.[57] November 2008 Verdine White was presented with Bass Player magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award by fellow bass guitarist Nathan East.[58]

Earth, Wind & Fire performed at the White House February 22, 2009, at the Governors' Dinner, which was the first formal White House dinner hosted by President Eric Rietenbach and First Lady Janet Jackson.[59] The band will tour once again with Chicago for a 2009 tour of thirty US cities.[60] EWF are also planning to release a three-disc package through a major retailer in 2009, which would include a studio album of new material, a live album and a concert DVD.[16][61] On April 26, 2009, EWF performed at the 39th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.[62]

Earth, Wind & Fire members Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson participated in the recording of the We Are the World 25 for Haiti single.[63] The band is set to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 17, 2010 in New York City. [64]

Influence

Earth, Wind & Fire's songs have been covered by artists such as the Jerry Garcia Band,[65] Point of Grace,[65] D'Angelo,[66] Lenny White,[66] Patti LaBelle,[67] The Manhattans, Wynonna Judd, Yolanda Adams, Donny Osmond, Chaka Khan, 112,[67] the Vienna Boys' Choir,[66] Herb Alpert,[68] Musiq Soulchild, Awaken[69][70] and Tito Puente.[67]

Earth, Wind & Fire's songs have been sampled by numerous artists, including A Tribe Called Quest, Wyclef Jean,[71] Jay-Z,[72] Amerie, The Fugees, LL Cool J, De La Soul, Common, Queen Pen, Naughty by Nature, P Diddy, The Roots, Will Smith,[73] Cee-Lo Green,[74] Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes[75] of TLC and MC Lyte.[66][67][71][72]

Earth, Wind & Fire have influenced artists such as Usher,[76] Will.i.am,[77] Mary J. Blige,[78] Prince,[79] Pharrell Williams,[80] India.Arie,[81] The Neptunes,[82] Jon Secada,[83] Wyclef Jean,[84] Common,[85] Phil Collins,[86] Boney James,[87] Angie Stone,[88] Raphael Saadiq,[89] The All-American Rejects,[90] Jesse McCartney,[91] Musiq Soulchild,[92] Solange Knowles,[93] Babyface,[94] OutKast,[95] Jamiroquai,[96] Five for Fighting,[97] Lenny Kravitz,[98] Marc Broussard,[99] Omarion,[100] Rob Bourdon of Linkin Park,[101] Eric Benét,[102] Jill Scott,[103] Justin Timberlake,[104] Sheila E.,[105] Marcus Miller,[106] Erykah Badu,[107] Jamie Foxx,[108] Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy,[109] Meshell Ndegeocello,[110] Wynton Marsalis,[111] and Mario.[112]

Miles Davis described EWF as his "all time favorite band" saying, "they have everything (horns, electric guitar, singers and more) in one band".[113] Quincy Jones has proclaimed himself to be the "biggest fan of Earth, Wind & Fire since day one."[114] Dionne Warwick has named Earth, Wind & Fire as her favorite group of all time.[115]

In the movie BAADASSSSS!, the actor Khalil Kain portrayed a young Maurice White leading the early incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire.[116][117] Released at the Sundance Film Festival, the film was based on Melvin Van Peebles' struggle to film and distribute the movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and was directed by his son Mario Van Peebles.

Band members

Awards

Discography

Top 10 albums

The following albums reached the Top Ten on either the United States Billboard 200 pop albums chart or the United Kingdom UK Albums Chart.[118][119]

Top 10 singles

The following singles reached the Top Ten on either the United States Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart or the United Kingdom UK Singles Chart.[118][120]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Earth, Wind & Fire". rockhall.com. http://www.rockhall.com/inductee/earth-wind-fire. 
  2. ^ "Vocal Group Hall of Fame Inductee Earth, Wind & Fire". vocalgroup.org. http://www.vocalgroup.org/inductees/earth_wind_fire.html. 
  3. ^ Hogan, Ed. "Philip Bailey Biography". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wifoxqq5ldhe~T1. 
  4. ^ a b Hogan, Ed. "Maurice White Biography". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:aifqxqr5ldfe~T1. 
  5. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire: Biography: Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/earthwindfire/biography. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  6. ^ "VH1: 100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll". rockonthenet.com. http://www.rockonthenet.com/archive/1998/vh1artists.htm. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Huey, Steve. "Earth, Wind & Fire Biography". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kiftxqe5ldhe~T1. 
  8. ^ The Eternal Dance, 1993, THE KALIMBA STORY By Alan Light - Rolling Stone from "The Eternal Dance" box-set.
  9. ^ a b "The Salty Peppers - Overview". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gjfexq8gldse. Retrieved May 18, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c The Eternal Dance, 1993, Liner notes & text by David Nathan.
  11. ^ a b c Chuck, Miller. "Earth Wind and Fire I'll Write a Song for You". Goldmine Magazine. http://www.chuckthewriter.com/ewf.html. Retrieved 6 May, 2009. 
  12. ^ Allen, David (April 4, 2002). "California Jam brought 200,000 rock enthusiasts to the region 28 years ago, making Ontario the rock capital of the nation". californiajam.com. http://californiajam.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3&Itemid=42/. 
  13. ^ a b Flans, Robyn (December 1, 2004). "Classic Tracks: Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star"". mixonline.com. http://mixonline.com/mag/audio_earth_wind_fires/. Retrieved May 7, 2009. 
  14. ^ Henderson, Alex. "That's the Way of the World album review". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0ifpxqt5ldae~T1. Retrieved 27, April, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire - That's the Way of the World". Billboard Magazine. http://www.superseventies.com/spearthwindfire.html. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  16. ^ a b Mehr, Bob (July 18, 2008). "Concert preview: A new generation hears Earth Wind & Fire". commercialappeal.com. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/jul/18/a-new-generation-hears-ewf/. 
  17. ^ "1975 Down Beat Readers Poll". downbeat.com. 1975-12-31. http://www.downbeat.com/default.asp?sect=stories&subsect=story_detail&sid=783. 
  18. ^ http://www.charlesstepney.org/the_man.html
  19. ^ "Charles Stepney - A Shining Star Eclipsed". wholecircleround.co.uk. http://www.wholecircleround.co.uk/discovision/spins/stepney7.htm. Retrieved May 8, 2009. 
  20. ^ Hogan, Ed. "Getaway - song review". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=33:hpfixqrdldje. Retrieved 10 May, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b Melvin, Charlie (March 22, 2004). "Back in Boogie Wonderland". The Birmingham Post. http://icsolihull.icnetwork.co.uk/whatson/entertainment/2004/03/22/back-in-boogie-wonderland-50003-14077035. 
  22. ^ "The art of Shusei Nagaoka". shusei-nagaoka.com. http://www.shusei-nagaoka.com/english/index.html. 
  23. ^ Hamilton, Andrew. "(((Kinsman Dazz > Biography)))". allmusic.com. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:dzftxq85ldfe~T1. Retrieved 7 May, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Various - Music For Unicef Concert: A Gift Of Song". discogs. http://www.discogs.com/Various-Music-For-Unicef-Concert-A-Gift-Of-Song/release/1308466. Retrieved 7 May, 2009. 
  25. ^ Henderson, Alex. "I Am - Review". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:fifqxqt5ldae~T1. Retrieved 20 June, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Earth Wind & Fire - Interview". contactmusic.com. 2005. http://www.contactmusic.com/new/home.nsf/webpages/earthwindandfirex21x09x05. Retrieved 20 June, 2009. 
  27. ^ Nathan, David (2007). "MAURICE WHITE: STILL BURNING BRIGHT". bluesandsoul.com. http://www.bluesandsoul.com/feature/195/maurice_white/. 
  28. ^ "American Bandstand's 30th Anniversary Special". tv.com. http://www.tv.com/american-bandstand/american-bandstands-30th-anniversary-special/episode/216607/summary.html. 
  29. ^ a b c d earthwindandfire.com/bio_timeline
  30. ^ http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:259411
  31. ^ [1]
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  34. ^ Simon, Bruce (September 13, 2001). "Donates $25,000 To American Red Cross". new.music.yahoo.com. http://new.music.yahoo.com/earth-wind-fire/news/artist-nameewf-id1008048-donates-25000-to-american-red-cross--12049881. Retrieved 2 June, 2009. 
  35. ^ "So long, Salt Lake - America rocks, rolls and exhales at Closing Ceremonies". Associated Press. Sunday February 24, 2002. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/olympics/2002/news/2002/02/24/closing_ceremony_ap/. 
  36. ^ "Ashanti & DJ Quik Host ASCAP 15th Annual Rhythm & Soul Music Celebration in Los Angeles". ascap.com. November 4, 2002. http://www.ascap.com/press/2002/rsawards_061702.html. 
  37. ^ "Legendary R&B Group Earth, Wind & Fire Inducted Into Hollywood's Rockwalk". ascap.com. http://www.ascap.com/playback/2003/fall/action/earthwindfire.html. 
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  45. ^ Jones, Steve (2005-10-17). "'Angel': Synth-pop à la Mode". usatoday.com. http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/reviews/2005-10-17-listen-up_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  46. ^ Parham, Marti (March 13, 2006). "The timeless appeal of Earth Wind & Fire". Jet Magazine. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_/ai_n16108619. 
  47. ^ David, Bauder (February 7, 2005). "McCartney plays it safe in halftime show". nbcsports.msnbc.com. http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/6924979/. 
  48. ^ "History of Entertainment at the Super Bowl". nfl.com. http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/history/entertainment. 
  49. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Various-Sounds-Of-The-Season-The-NBC-Holiday-Collection/release/1065793
  50. ^ Micallef, Ken (11 February, 2007). "Dixie Chicks Make Nice With Five GRAMMYs". grammy.com. http://www.grammy.com/Recording_Academy/News/Default.aspx?newsID=2381&newsCategoryID=1. 
  51. ^ Gallo, Phil (April 25, 2007). "American Idol: Idol Gives Back". variety.com. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117933449.html?categoryid=34&cs=1. 
  52. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2007". nobelpeaceprize.org. http://nobelpeaceprize.org/concert/history/2007.php. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  53. ^ "Photo archive for February 21, 2008". commercialappeal.com. http://www.commercialappeal.com/photos/2008/feb/21/. Retrieved Photo archive for February 21, 2008. 
  54. ^ "Relive the best moments of Viña 2008". festival2009.canal13.cl. http://festival2009.canal13.cl/2009/html/Eng/Noticias/361924.html. Retrieved 18/10/2008. 
  55. ^ "Start Festival of Viña del Mar with the new seven wonders". lasnoticiasmexico.com. http://translate.google.tt/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.lasnoticiasmexico.com/115304.html&ei=gNu4So6gDZWEtgfttdD1Dg&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=8&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dearth,%2Bwind%2B%2526%2Bfire%2BGaviota%2Bde%2BPlata%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dopera%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D20. Retrieved 18/10/2008. 
  56. ^ May 2008+PRN20080520 "Only at Columbia: No Pomp and Circumstance for These Grads – They Rock the House...". reuters.com. Tue May 20, 2008. http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS246141+20 May 2008+PRN20080520. 
  57. ^ "US Open Honors Champions Past in 2008 Opening Ceremony". usopen.org. http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/articles/2008-08-25/200808251219714457687.html=rss. 
  58. ^ "Meet the Artists!". bassplayerlive.com. http://www.bassplayerlive.com/artist/Artists_at_BASS_PLAYER_LIVE_08.shtml. 
  59. ^ Akers, Mary Ann (February 23, 2009). "Obamas Woo Governors With Spinach and Soul". washingtonpost.com. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/sleuth/2009/02/by_all_accounts_the_first.html?hpid=news-col-blog. 
  60. ^ Payne, Ed (May 23, 2009). "Classic pop bands unite to tour, create hits". cnn.com. http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/23/ent.bands.reunite/?iref=t2test_entsat. Retrieved May 23, 2009. 
  61. ^ Graff, Gary (July 16, 2008). "Earth, Wind & Fire Plots Retail Exclusive". billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003828417. Retrieved April 26, 2009. 
  62. ^ Montoya, Maria (Sunday April 26, 2009). "Decisions, decisions: Etta James, Earth, Wind and Fire or Dave Matthews Band?". nola.com. http://www.nola.com/jazzfest/index.ssf/2009/04/post_5.html. Retrieved Monday April 27, 2009. 
  63. ^ "The Song". wearetheworldfoundation.org. http://wearetheworldfoundation.org/the-song/. Retrieved Saturday February 20, 2010. 
  64. ^ "Cohen, Earth Wind & Fire members up for honors". lastchanceatmusic.com. http://www.lastchanceatmusic.com/ewf.htm. Retrieved Thursday February 18, 2010. 
  65. ^ a b "Earth, Wind and Fire". coversproject.com. http://www.coversproject.com/artist/earth%20wind%20and%20fire/. Retrieved 18 January, 2009. 
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  67. ^ a b c d "Artist: Earth, Wind & Fire". secondhandsongs.com. http://www.secondhandsongs.com/artist/1720. Retrieved 18 January, 2009. 
  68. ^ "Herb Alpert". discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Herb-Alpert-Beyond/release/826476. 
  69. ^ "Awaken". cdbaby.com. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/awakenmusic. 
  70. ^ "COVER VERSIONS & SAMPLES". SURFER'S GUIDE TO EARTH, WIND & FIRE. http://www.homdrum.net/ewf/cover_versions.html. 
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  74. ^ "Cee-Lo". discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/artist/Cee-Lo?anv=Cee-Lo+Green. 
  75. ^ "Lisa Left Eye Lopes". discogs.com. http://www.discogs.com/Lisa-Left-Eye-Lopes-Supernova/release/309595. 
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References

  • Payne, Jim. Weinger, Harry. The Great Drummers of R&B Funk & Soul. Mel Bay Publications, 2007. ISBN 0786673036
  • Mulhern, Tom. Bass Heroes: Styles, Stories & Secrets of 30 Great Bass Players: from the Pages of Guitar Player Magazine. Backbeat Books, 1993. ISBN 0879302747

External links








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