Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Let’s Groove, Shining Star, Boogie Wonderland, September – these pop and disco hits by the US group Earth, Wind & Hearth are among the many hottest from the 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 clean vocals, dynamic brass preparations, dance-club pleasant rhythms and catchy choruses, the data nonetheless sound recent 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 emphasize his fraternal relationship with Maurice – joined EW&F in 1974, after the band’s breakthrough album – their fifth – Head to the Sky (1973).

Knowledgeable for the reason that 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 & Hearth in 1970, the identify coming from his astrological chart. As singer, co-drummer, songwriter and producer, Maurice was the boss, initially altering file labels and changing members furiously, preserving solely Verdine on bass.

Noting Fred’s means 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 dwell performances and studio periods, 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 & Hearth, 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 & Hearth (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 characteristic Fred, That’s the Method 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 finest 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 way of within the UK, with the only Saturday Nite reaching No 17 within the charts. The follow-up LP, All ’N All (1977), went High 20 within the UK, and any more EW&F would often place albums and singles within the UK charts, their music interesting equally to pop, disco and jazz-funk followers, whereas their spectacular dwell 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, nearly 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 health care provider and novice 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 business. Because the youngest member of EW&F, White was each its jester and troublemaker, his vitality 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 after 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 tons of of tens of millions of 45s, they continue to be fashionable, their hits often heard throughout radio, TV and movie. Verdine, because the final authentic member, continues to tour Earth, Wind & Hearth.

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

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