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Earth, Wind & Fire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Earth, Wind & Fire (EW&F or EWF) is an American band who have spanned the musical genres of jazz, R&B, soul, funk, disco, pop, EDM, Latin, and Afro pop.[2][3] They have been described as one of the most innovative and are among the most commercially successful acts in history.[2][4][5] With sales of over 90 million records, they are one of the world's best-selling bands of all time.[6][7][8]

The band was founded in Chicago by Maurice White in 1969, having grown out of a previous band known as the Salty Peppers.[6][9] Other prominent members of EWF have included Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Al McKay, Roland Bautista, Robert Brookins, Sonny Emory, Fred Ravel, Ronnie Laws, Sheldon Reynolds and Andrew Woolfolk.[10] The band is known for its kalimba sound, dynamic horn section, energetic and elaborate stage shows, and the contrast between Philip Bailey's falsetto vocals and Maurice White's baritone.[5][11]

The band has won 6 Grammys from their 17 nominations[12] and four American Music Awards out of 12 nominations.[2] They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame, and Hollywood's Rockwalk, in addition to receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The band has also received an ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award, BET Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Soul Train Legend Award,[2][13] as well as a NARAS Signature Governor's Award,[2] a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award,[2][12] the 2012 Congressional Horizon Award,[14] and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2019.[15] Rolling Stone called them "innovative, precise yet sensual, calculated yet galvanizing" and declared that the band "changed the sound of black pop".[16] VH1 has also described EWF as "one of the greatest bands" ever.[5]


1969–1970: Beginnings

In 1969, Maurice White, a former session drummer for Chess Records and former 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 eventually got a recording contract with Capitol Records. Calling themselves "The Salty Peppers", they went on to have a marginal hit single in the Midwestern area titled "La La Time".[11][17]

The Salty Peppers' second single, "Uh Huh Yeah", did not fare as well. Maurice moved on from Chicago to Los Angeles. He added to the band singer Sherry Scott[18] 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. On June 6, 1970, Verdine left Chicago to join the band as their new bassist. Maurice began shopping demo tapes of the band, featuring Donny Hathaway, around to different record labels and the band was eventually signed to Warner Bros. Records.[11]

1970–1974: Formation and early years

Maurice's astrological sign, Sagittarius, has a primary elemental quality of fire and seasonal qualities of earth and air, according to classical triplicities. Sagittarius in the northern hemisphere occurs in the autumn, whose element is earth, and in the southern hemisphere, it is spring, whose element is air. Hence the omission of Water, the fourth classical element. Based on this, he changed the band's name, to "Earth, Wind & Fire". Maurice held further auditions in L.A. where he added Michael Beal on guitar, Chester Washington on reeds, and Leslie Drayton on trumpet. With Maurice as a percussionist and lead vocalist Drayton also served as the group's musical arranger. Trombonist Alex Thomas completed the then ten-man EWF lineup. Warner Bros also designated Joe Wissert to be the band's producer.[6][11][19]

The band's self-titled debut album was released in February 1971 on Warner Bros. The album got to No. 24 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and has been certified Gold in France by the SNEP.[20][21][22]

Lester Bangs of Rolling Stone noted a "heavy Sly influence" and the "smooth harmonies" of The Fifth Dimension on the LP.[23] Bob Talbert of the Detroit Free Press also wrote "I'm not sure what to call this group. Afro-gospel-jazz-blues-rock? Must there be a label?".[24]

EWF went on to perform the entire soundtrack of the Melvin Van Peebles feature film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. The soundtrack, composed by Van Peebles, was released in April 1971 on Stax Records.[25] The album reached No. 13 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart.[26]

In November 1971, EWF's second album, titled The Need of Love, was issued. The LP got to No. 35 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart.[27][28] Bruce Lindsay of Jazz Journal called The Need of Love "a worthwhile album".[29] Al Rudis of The Chicago Sun Times also wrote the LP "works beautifully and while the elements of Earth, Wind & Fire aren't new, this mixture of them is a unique sound".[30]

A single from the album called "I Think About Lovin' You" reached No. 44 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart.[31]

The band developed a growing popularity on college campuses but, in spite of this, some members of EWF started to become restless. As such the band eventually split. With only Verdine left, Maurice decided to re-form the group.[11]

During 1972, Maurice added vocalist Helena Davis, Ronnie Laws on the flute and saxophone, rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, vocalist Philip Bailey and percussionist Ralph Johnson to the group. Davis was soon replaced by Jessica Cleaves, a former member of the R&B group The Friends of Distinction.[11][32]

The band successfully auditioned for managers Bob Cavallo and Joe Ruffalo. Cavallo's management of John Sebastian led to a series of gigs as the opening act for the pop/folk singer and The Lovin' Spoonful founder. A performance at New York's Rockefeller Center introduced EWF to Clive Davis, then the President of Columbia Records. Davis was very impressed with the band's performance and bought out their contract from Warner Bros. Wissert also, went along with the band to Columbia, as their producer.[11][19][33]

Their debut album on CBS/Columbia Records, Last Days and Time, was issued in October 1972. The album got to No. 15 on the US Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 9 on the UK Blues & Soul Top British Soul Albums chart.[34][35][36] Paul Sexton of Record Mirror proclaimed "Musical historians and EW&F fans alike will welcome" Last Days and Time.[37] Ovid Goode Jr. of The Los Angeles Daily News also declared that the LP is full of "moving tunes" that "sprouts forth with a fresh sound which sets it apart from many of the ho-hum aggregations around today".[38]

A single called "Mom" got to No. 39 on the Cashbox Top R&B Singles chart.[39]

Soon thereafter, Roland Bautista and Ronnie Laws left the band to pursue new musical opportunities. Denver native Philip Bailey recommended his former East High School classmate, saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk as a replacement for Laws. Woolfolk had been busy in New York studying sax with sax maestro Joe Henderson and was due to start a career in banking at the time. To fill the void created by Bautista's departure, rhythm guitarists Al McKay and Johnny Graham were added to round out the new lineup. Graham previously played with the R&B group New Birth while McKay was a former member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.[11]

EWF's fourth studio album, Head to the Sky, was released in May 1973. The album rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 27 on the Billboard 200 chart.[40][41][42] Head to the Sky has also been certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.[43]

Vince Aletti of Rolling Stone declared that EWF "sound like a cosmic choir and generate a Sly Stone effect" on an album that's "certainly beyond all expectations".[44] Variety also described the record as "a movin' new package." [45]

A single off the LP titled "Evil" got to No. 19 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs and No. 25 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs charts respectively.[46][47] Another single called "Keep Your Head to the Sky" rose to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart.[48] Jessica Cleaves left the band after the release of this album.[11]

The band's follow-up album was co-produced by Maurice and Joe Wissert. This LP was recorded at Colorado's Caribou Ranch Studio and issued under the title of Open Our Eyes in March 1974.[49] Ken Emerson of Rolling Stone called Open Our Eyes "a pleasant miscellany of Africana, Latin rhythms, well-mannered funk, smooth jazz, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder and the Fifth Dimension". The Village Voice's Robert Christgau also described the album as a complete "tour de force".[50][51] The album rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 15 on the Billboard 200 chart.[52][53] Open Our Eyes was certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.[54]

A single from the LP called "Mighty Mighty" reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart and No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[55] [56] Another single titled "Kalimba Story" rose to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart.[57] A song called "Devotion" also got to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart and No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

After Open Our Eyes was issued, Maurice's younger brother, Fred White, joined the band. He had previously played in Chicago clubs as a drummer with Donny Hathaway and Little Feat.[32]

On April 6, 1974, EWF performed at the California Jam, a West Coast rock festival that attracted an audience of 200,000. The concert was televised in the US on May 10, 1974 by ABC.[58]

In September 1974, a compilation double album titled Another Time with all the songs from EWF's first two studio albums was released by Warner Bros. The album got to No. 29 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart.[59][60]

The band then collaborated with Ramsey Lewis on his album Sun Goddess which was produced by Maurice and issued in late 1974 by Columbia. The album got to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart.[61][62] [63] The LP's title track rose to No. 20 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart.[64] Sun Goddess was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.[65]

1975–1980: Ornate sound

During 1975, EWF was approached by Sig Shore, producer of the motion picture Super Fly, to record the soundtrack to a new film titled That's the Way of the World. With a screenplay from Robert Lipsyte, the film was produced and directed by Shore. The film starred Harvey Keitel, Ed Nelson, EWF as "The Group" and Maurice as Early, "The Group"'s leader. Keitel played the role of a record producer who hears "The Group" performing and is wowed by their act.[32][66]

When the band saw the film they were convinced that it would become a box office bomb, which it eventually was.[19] They therefore released the film's soundtrack before the film's premiere. The LP was produced by White and Charles Stepney and recorded at the Caribou Ranch Studio. Stepney had previously worked with artists such as the Dells, Terry Callier and Minnie Riperton and the collective group the Rotary Connection, of which Riperton was a member. Stepney's writing and production style included a more ornate, orchestral flourish, which influenced the production of the soundtrack album.[67]

That's the Way of the World was eventually issued in March 1975 by Columbia. The album rose to No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Soul Albums charts.[68][69][70] Stephen Curwood of The Boston Globe called the LP "a sound you shouldn't miss." Daryl Easlea of the BBC also described That's the Way of the World as a "soul masterpiece." The album was certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA.[71][72][73]

From the LP came the single "Shining Star", which rose to No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts. By this achievement, EWF became the first black act to top both the Billboard album and singles charts. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[12][68][72][74][75] The album's second single was title track "That's the Way of the World". It reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart and No. 12 on the Hot 100 chart.[76][77]

With the album's success the band was able to hire their own horn section, dubbed the Phenix Horns. They were composed of saxophonist Don Myrick, trombonist Louis Satterfield, and trumpeters Rahmlee Davis and Michael Harris. Myrick and Satterfield had both previously worked with White during his days as a session drummer at Chess Records.[78]

After their first tour of Europe, EWF returned to the studio in June 1975 for a follow-up release. The band eventually came away with an album of mostly live concert material together with some newly recorded tracks. As a double LP the new album titled Gratitude was issued in November 1975.[79] It rose to No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Soul Albums charts respectively.[80][81] The album was certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA.[82]

With the LP came the song "Sing a Song", which rose to numbers 1 and 5 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs and Hot 100 charts respectively.[83][84] The single "Can't Hide Love" got to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart.[85] "Can't Hide Love" was Grammy nominated for Best Arrangement For Voices. The album's title track was also nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[12]

During 1975, White also established a production company called Kalimba Productions. Artists such as his former bandleader Ramsey Lewis; singer Deniece Williams, who had once been a member of Stevie Wonder's "Wonderlove" backup group; and girl group the Emotions, were signed to the production company. Maurice loaned the band's signature Phenix Horns and most of the other band members and put these and others artists who were signed to Kalimba Productions on tour with EWF.[11]

While co-producing and arranging EWF's follow-up LP, Williams's debut album, This Is Niecy, Ramsey Lewis's Salongo, and the Emotions' Flowers, their first album on Columbia Records, Charles Stepney died of a heart attack on May 17, 1976 in Chicago at the age of 45.

With Stepney's death, White went on to produce on his own the band's new LP, Spirit, which was issued in October 1976. With the album's title EWF paid tribute to Stepney.[86][87] The LP rose to No. 2 on both the Billboard Top Pop Albums and Top Soul Albums charts.[88][89] Craig Werner of Vibe called Spirit "one of the group's defining moments" and "gospel soul for the ages."[90]John Rockwell of The New York Times also declared "what is most interesting about Maurice White and his their refusal to be locked into any stylistic format."[91] Spirit was certified double platinum in the US by the RIAA.[92]

A single off the LP called "Getaway" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart.[93] The song also rose to No. 12 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance Club Play charts.[94][95] Another single titled "Saturday Nite" reached numbers 4 and 21 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs and Hot 100 charts respectively.[96][97] "Saturday Nite" also rose to No. 12 on both the Billboard Dance Club Songs and UK Pop Singles charts respectively.[98][99] The album cut "Earth, Wind and Fire" was Grammy nominated for Best Instrumental Composition.[100]

During this period, EWF concerts started to become 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. The stage magician Doug Henning was thus with many of their tours with his young assistant and eventual successor, David Copperfield. The band also began to be choreographed by George Faison.[11][101]

In November 1977, EWF released All 'n All, their eighth studio album.[102] It was inspired via a month long trip by Maurice White through Argentina and Brazil. The album rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart.[103][104] John Rockwell of The New York Times declared "All 'n All shows Maurice White and his cohorts pushing their music ever more in a febrile jazz‐rock direction."[105] Monroe Anderson of the Chicago Tribune also called the album as a "rare blend of poetry, passion and artistic progression."[106]

All 'n All won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus.[12] The album was certified triple platinum in the US by the RIAA.[107]

A song from the LP called "Serpentine Fire" rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.[108][109] Another single titled "Fantasy" reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart and No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart.[99][110] "Fantasy" was Grammy nominated in the category of Best R&B Song.[100] A track off the LP called "Runnin" won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental.[12]

In April 1978, the band featured on Natalie Cole's special aired on CBS where they performed a medley.[111][112]

EWF also appeared in the July 1978 feature film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band where they performed a cover of the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life". The song was eventually added to the film's soundtrack. However, the film was a commercial failure, as That's the Way of the World had been years before. EWF's rendition of "Got to Get You into My Life" was the biggest hit from the film's soundtrack, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard R&B songs chart and No. 9 on the Billboard Pop singles chart.[11][113][114][115] The song was Grammy-nominated in the category of Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus. It went on to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).[12][100] The film's soundtrack was certified platinum in the US by the RIAA.[116]

In 1978, White established a vanity label of CBS titled The American Record Company (ARC), and alongside sound engineer George Massenburg, a new recording studio called 'The Complex' in West Los Angeles.[11] In November 1978, EWF issued a compilation album on the new vanity label entitled The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1.[117] It rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart.[118][119] The album was certified quintuple platinum in the U.S. by the RIAA.[120]

A single titled "September" rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[121][122] "September" also reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.[99]

In January 1979, the band performed "September" and "That's the Way of the World" at the Music for UNICEF Concert. The concert was broadcast worldwide from the United Nations General Assembly by NBC. Other artists who performed at the event were ABBA, Andy Gibb, the Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer and Rod Stewart. The concert was Emmy-nominated in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement - Special Class.[123][124][125]

During June 1979, EWF issued their ninth studio album, I Am. The LP rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart.[126][127] I Am was certified double platinum in the US by the RIAA.[128]

Earth, Wind, and Fire's Maurice White and Philip Bailey performing in 1979 at the Ahoy Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Earth, Wind, and Fire's Maurice White and Philip Bailey performing in 1979 at the Ahoy Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that the album was "freshly innovative for EW&F."[129] Eric Sieger of The Baltimore Sun also described I Am as being "faultlessly produced."[130]

A song from the LP titled "Boogie Wonderland", featuring the Emotions, got to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Soul Songs chart and No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.[131][132] The song was also Grammy nominated in the categories of Best Disco Recording and Best R&B Instrumental Performance.[12]

Another single called "After the Love Has Gone" reached No. 2 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Songs charts.[133][134] The song also reached No. 3 on both the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs and UK Pop Singles charts.[99][135] The ballad was Grammy-nominated in the category of Record of the Year. "After the Love Has Gone" also won a Grammy for the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.[12]

During October 1980, EWF issued a double album titled Faces. This LP was in the emerging post-disco style and was partly recorded on the Caribbean island of Montserrat.[136][137] The album rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 10 on both the Billboard 200 and UK Albums charts.[99][138][139] Faces was certified gold in the US by the RIAA.[140]

In a 2007 interview, when asked which EWF album was his favorite, Maurice White replied: "Probably Faces because we were really in tune...and it gave us the opportunity to explore new areas."[141] Soon after its release, rhythm guitarist Al McKay left the band.[11]

Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times declared "Faces is the R&B album of the year."[136] Chuck Pratt of the Chicago Sun Times exclaimed "this fine funk soul group puts its best face forward on this ambitious and generous double pocket set of intricately produced, high gloss funk."[142]

A song off the LP titled "Let Me Talk" reached No. 8 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and No. 29 on the UK Singles Chart.[99][143] Another single called "You" got to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart and No. 30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.[144][145] As a single, "And Love Goes On" rose to No. 15 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.[146]

1981–1996: Electric sound

White decided that, given the changing musical landscape, the band needed to incorporate into their work more of the electronic sound which was popular at the time. As a result, EWF's eleventh album, Raise!, was influenced by this new electronic sound and released in the Autumn of 1981. With this album rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista returned to EWF. Bautista went on to give the band's sound a bit of a hard rock feel with his playing.[11] Raise! rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart and No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart.[147][148] Raise was also certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.[149]

Ken Tucker of Rolling Stone described Raise! as a reflection of "street-gritty black pop".[150] J.D. Considine of The Baltimore Sun noted that the album puts "Earth, Wind & Fire back on the rock and roll road".[151]

One song from album, called "Let's Groove," reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart and No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[152][153] This song was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[12]

Another song, titled "I've Had Enough", got to No. 29 on the UK Pop Singles chart.[99] A single called "Wanna Be With You" also rose to No. 15 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart.[154] Wanna Be With You also won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[12] On October 30, 1981 EWF appeared at American Bandstand's 30th Anniversary Special, where they performed "Let's Groove".[155]

In 1981, the Phenix Horns also began their frequent collaborations with Phil Collins and his band Genesis.[156]

During February 1983, EWF issued a studio album titled Powerlight. The album rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart and No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart.[157][158] Powerlight was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.[159]

Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times wrote Powerlight "does show why EWF is one of the masters of studio pop."[160][161] Hugh Wyatt of the New York Daily News found "Earth, Wind & Fire gives new meaning to the word classy, and I like it".[162]

The album's first single "Fall in Love with Me" rose to No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.[163][164] "Fall in Love with Me" was Grammy-nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[12] A second single titled "Side by Side" got to No. 15 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.[165]

EWF went on to appear on the soundtrack of the April 1983 animated feature film Rock & Rule with the song "Dance, Dance, Dance". Artists such as Debbie Harry of Blondie, Lou Reed and Cheap Trick also featured on the soundtrack. LA Weekly noted the "standout track" is "Earth, Wind & Fire's funky club jam Dance, Dance, Dance".[166] Rock & Rule was the first feature film of Nelvana Studios. Spin called Rock & Rule "the greatest oddball scifi musical ever committed to animation cels". Keith Breese of Contact Music described the movie as "a masterpiece of outré animation and wildly ambitious vision and remains a triumph in animated feature film". Rock & Rule has also gone on to become a cult classic.[166][167][168]

During November 1983, EWF issued their thirteenth studio album, titled Electric Universe. With the album came a unique fully new wave and synth pop sound for EWF.[169] The album got to No. 8 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart and No. 40 on the Billboard 200 chart.[170][171]

Gary Graff of The Detroit Free Press exclaimed "Plug in the planets! This is the best disc this outfit has put together in quite some time."[172] Matty Karas of Rolling Stone also described Electric Universe as being full of "sensuous, and at times, rock oriented dance material."[173][174]

A song from the album called "Magnetic" rose to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart and No. 36 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.[175][176] Another single entitled "Touch" got to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.[177]

With the release of this LP, Maurice believed the band needed a break, so he put EWF on hiatus in 1984.

During their hiatus, Maurice went on to produce Barbra Streisand on her 1984 album Emotion.[178] Emotion has been certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.[179] He also produced Ramsey Lewis on his 1985 album Fantasy. The album reached No. 13 on the Cashbox Jazz Albums chart.[180][181] White went on to release a self-titled solo album in 1985 on Columbia. The album rose to number 12 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart. A cover of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" got to No. 6 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart and No. 11 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.[182][183][184][185] Another album cut, "I Need You", rose to No. 20 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart and No. 30 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart.[186][187] White went on to co-produce Pieces of a Dream's 1986 LP Joyride. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums chart and No. 18 on the Billboard Top Soul Albums chart.[188][189][190] He then produced Neil Diamond on his 1986 album Headed for the Future. The album was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.[191][192] White later guested on guitarist Lee Ritenour's 1986 Grammy-nominated album Earth Run and produced Ramsey Lewis on his 1987 album Keys to the City. That album got to No. 22 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.[193][194][195][196]

Philip Bailey also issued his second solo album, Chinese Wall, in 1984 on Columbia. The album was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. A single off the LP with Phil Collins called "Easy Lover," rose to No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the UK Singles Chart respectively. He went on to also issue a Grammy nominated Gospel LP entitled The Wonders of His Love in 1984 on Myrrh Records and then appeared upon Kenny Loggins 1985 album Vox Humana.[197][198] Bailey went on to release his third studio album being Inside Out in 1986 on Columbia. During that year his second Gospel LP, Triumph, was issued and it also won a Grammy.[199] Bailey later featured on Stevie Wonder's 1986 album In Square Circle and Ray Parker Jr.'s 1987 LP After Dark.[197][200]

Ralph Johnson also produced The Temptations on their 1984 album Truly for You. Verdine White went on to promote go-go bands like Trouble Funk and E.U.[11] The compilation album The Collection was released May 1986, stayed at No. 5 on the UK singles charts for two weeks, and was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry.[99][201]

During 1987, Maurice went about reconvening the band. As a result, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Philip Bailey and Andrew Woolfolk returned with new members guitarist/vocalist Sheldon Reynolds, keyboardist Vance Taylor and drummer Sonny Emory. A new horn section dubbed the Earth, Wind & Fire Horns was created, made up of Gary Bias on the saxophone, Raymond Lee Brown on the trumpet, and Reggie Young on the flugelhorn and trombone.[11]

With this came the studio album Touch the World which was issued in November 1987.[202] Touch the World rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart and No. 33 on the Billboard 200 chart.[203][204] Touch the World was also certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.[205]

David Emerson of The Boston Globe called Touch the World "one of their toughest and most convincing records ever".[206] Pamela Bloom of High Fidelity proclaimed "the message, as always, is stop, step back, and turn up your light".[207] Touch the World was also nominated for a Soul Train Award in the category of Best R&B/Soul Album of the Year.[208]

On the album was a track written by an unknown songwriter by the name of Skylark titled "System of Survival". Released as a single, the song became a hit, going to number one on both the Billboard R&B and Dance charts. "System of Survival" was nominated for a Soul Train Award in the category of Best R&B/Soul Single – Group, Band or Duo.[202][208][209][210] Another single titled "Thinking of You" got to No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and No. 3 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[202][211][212]

During November 1988, EWF issued a compilation album titled The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 2. The album was certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.[213][214] With the LP came a new song titled "Turn on (The Beat Box)", which was released as a single and reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.[215] EWF went on to be nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Best Vocal Group.[216]

During February 1990, EWF issued their fifteenth studio album, entitled Heritage. The album rose to No. 19 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart and No. 18 on the UK Blues & Soul Top British Soul Albums chart.[217][218][219]

People magazine described Heritage as an album "with a full dose of energy and creativity".[220] Don Palmer of Spin also proclaimed "EWF's newest kicks with some genuine enthusiasm".[221]

The album's title track, featuring The Boys, got to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.[222] Another single, "For the Love of You" featuring MC Hammer, rose to No. 19 on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart.[223]

The band appeared on the compilation album Music Speaks Louder Than Words released in 1990 on Epic Records. Artists such as Phoebe Snow, Roberta Flack, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LaBelle, Animotion, Atlantic Starr, and Anne Murray featured on the album. Songs on the album were composed by both American and Soviet musicians and songwriters. A sum of the proceeds went to the AFS Intercultural Exchanges programme, an international body based in 70 countries which places exchange students with host families.[224][225] During 1992, EWF issued a compilation album called The Eternal Dance. The LP was the band's first ever boxset. The Boston Globe also placed The Eternal Dance on their lists of the top ten recordings of both 1992 and 1993.[226][227] On July 30, 1993, former Phenix Horns saxophonist Don Myrick was fatally shot by a Santa Monica Police Department officer.[228]

During September 1993, came the release of the band's 16th studio album, Millennium issued on Warner Bros. Records. Artists such as Ronnie Laws and Prince appeared on the LP. The album also rose to No. 8 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart and No. 39 on the Billboard 200 chart.[229][230][231] Millennium has also been certified Gold in Japan by the RIAJ.[232]

Tom Sinclair of Vibe proclaimed that EWF "demonstrate they still have the knack for constructing mellifluous R&B on the visionary/romantic tip."[233] Renee Graham of The Boston Globe noted that Millennium "returns the band to its funk/r&b roots" with a "tasty bit of Minneapolis funk".[234] Millennium was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award in the category of Best R&B/Soul Album - Group, Band or Duo.[235]

The album's first single "Sunday Morning" got to No. 10 on the US Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart and No. 20 on the US Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart. The song also reached No. 35 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart and No. 33 on the RPM Top Canadian Singles chart, and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.[12][236][237][238][239] Another single entitled "Spend the Night" rose to No. 36 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart.[240]

On October 13 of that year, former lead vocalist Wade Flemons died from cancer in Battle Creek, Michigan.[241]

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

In November 1993, EWF performed at the American Music Awards 20th anniversary special.[242] During 1994, EWF was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame.[243] On September 14 of the following year, the band received another tribute in the form of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[7][244][245]

Maurice White, Sonny Emory, Sheldon Reynolds, Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson, Andrew Woolfolk and Verdine White all attended the inauguration ceremony where they were bestowed with the honor before hundreds of fans.[244][245]

1996–present: Neo period

During 1996, Maurice launched a new label titled Kalimba Records based in Santa Monica, California. At the label also came a recording studio known as Magnet Vision.[246][247]

EWF's follow-up studio album, In the Name of Love, was released in 1997 on Rhino Records. The album went on to be noted as one with a digitised neo soul sound and style. Phyl Garland of Stereo Review wrote "with this set of skillfully shaped songs, White has positioned Earth, Wind & Fire to move into the next century".[248] Dan Glaister of The Guardian also described In the Name of Love as "a scorching album".[249] The LP reached No. 19 on the UK R&B Albums chart.[250] From the album, a track titled "When Love Goes Wrong" got to No. 33 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart. Another song called "Change Your Mind" was issued as a single in 2006 by Kalimba.[251] Change Your Mind rose to No. 26 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart.[252][253]

During the previous year, Maurice stopped regularly touring with the band but still appeared on stage occasionally. At the time, he explained that he wanted to take a rest from the rigors of the road. Philip Bailey was given the role of an on stage leader of the band. Maurice though maintained executive control of EWF as its main leader.[254]

Earth, Wind & Fire went on to appear on Wu Tang Clan offshoot Sunz of Man's 1998 debut album The Last Shall Be First. The album got to No. 20 on the Billboard 200 chart and No.7 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[255][256][257] EWF then gave an encore performance at the 1998 Montreux Jazz Festival as the band also played at the 1997 edition of the festival.[258][259]

During Spring 1999, EWF appeared on the soundtrack of the animated sitcom The PJs.[260] That soundtrack rose to No. 25 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[261] The band then issued a compilation album titled The Ultimate Collection on Columbia.[262] The album reached No. 34 upon the UK Pop Albums Chart.[99] A remix by UK dance duo Phats and Small called "September '99" got to No. 1 on the Canadian Dance Songs chart and No. 25 on the UK Pop Singles chart.[99][263][264]

In 1999, the group also performed on the A&E Network show Live by Request.[265] A website titled was set up in 1999 in honor of Maurice. Maurice later spoke of a mild affliction with Parkinson's disease. Artists such as Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Isaac Hayes, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine posted messages on the site for White.[266] Maurice, however, had the disease under control, so much so that he occasionally made appearances at EWF performances, and continued to write, record, produce and develop new recordings for EWF and other artists.

On March 6, 2000, EWF was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by hip hop artist Lil' Kim to a standing ovation during the 15th annual ceremony held at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, and Ralph Johnson, as well as former EWF members Al McKay, Larry Dunn, Andrew Woolfolk, Fred White and Johnny Graham attended the ceremony. At the gala they performed "Shining Star" and "That's the Way of the World" together.[6][267]

EWF was a specially invited music guest at the June 20, 2000 White House state dinner hosted by President Bill Clinton on the South Lawn of the White House, in honor of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, and Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem.[268][269] So impressed was the king by the band's performance that he made a personal request for EWF to perform in Morocco for his 37th birthday celebration on August 21, 2000.[270] EWF went on to collaborate with Wyclef Jean on his second studio album, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book, which was issued in August 2000.[271] The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book got to No. 3 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart.[272][273] The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II A Book was certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.[274] In 2001, a biographical documentary of the band titled Shining Stars: The Official Story Of Earth, Wind & Fire was released, directed by Kathryn Arnold. Following the September 11 attacks of that year, the band members donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross at a September 13 show at Virginia's Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater, the band's first concert since those events took place.[275] February 24, 2002 saw EWF performing at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Utah.[276][277] On June 17, 2002, EWF was bestowed with the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Heritage Award at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The award was presented by ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman, Stevie Wonder, and Jimmy Jam.[278] On June 25, 2002, EWF was bestowed with a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.[279]

Within July 2002 a compilation album titled The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire was issued by Columbia.[280] The album has been certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. A sampler which featured remixes of Can't Hide Love and Let's Groove also came off the LP. The remix sampler got to No. 4 on the UK Dance Singles Chart.[281][282] A live album of the band's 1980 performance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, titled Live In Rio, was released on Kalimba Records in November 2002.

During May 2003, EWF issued The Promise on Kalimba Records.[283] The album peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 5 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart.[284][285] People magazine described The Promise as a "musically rich 17-track set (including five trademark instrumental interludes) that blows away most of today's R&B."[286] Steve Jones of USA Today wrote "with horn-kissed ballads and infectious jazz funk grooves, the band seems to have regained its spark".[287] Artists such as Angie Stone, The Emotions and Gerald Albright featured on the album.[283] The first single "All in the Way", featuring The Emotions, got to No. 13 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart and No. 25 Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.[288][289] The second single "Hold Me" reached No. 28 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart. Hold Me was also Grammy nominated in the category of Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.[12][290] Songs from the LP called Never and Why? were issued as singles in 2014 and 2015 respectively "Never" rose to No. 17 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart. "Why?" also got to No. 19 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart.[283][291][292]

On July 7, 2003, the band was inducted into Hollywood's Rockwalk. In September 2003, EWF were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.[8][13][293] On February 8, 2004, EWF performed in a tribute to funk at the 46th annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. Other artists performing at this tribute were Parliament Funkadelic, OutKast, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. EWF sang "Shining Star" and then at Outkast's request crooned "The Way You Move" with them. Robert Randolph and the Family Band performed their single "I Need More Love" and then all of the bands teamed to sing Parliament Funkadelic's classic "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)".[294][295] EWF also covered Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" on his May 2004 tribute album Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix.[296]

On June 8, 2004, EWF were bestowed with the NARAS Signature Governors Award at Los Angeles's Beverly Hills Hotel.[297] On September 27, 2004, former Phenix Horns trombonist Louis Satterfield died, aged 67.[298]

On December 11, 2004, EWF was honored at the first annual Grammy Jam held at Los Angeles's Wiltern Theater. At the Grammy Jam artists such as Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams, India Arie, George Benson, Sheila E., Kanye West, George Duke, Usher and Jill Scott paid tribute to the band in the form of performances. Celebrities such as Pamela Anderson, Tim Allen, Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Nick Cannon, Regina King, Suzanne de Passe and Victoria Rowell also attended the gala.[299][300] EWF performed on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on December 31, 2004.[301] The February 6, 2005, Super Bowl XXXIX pregame show in Jacksonville, Florida saw the band teaming with The Black Eyed Peas to sing "Where Is the Love?" and "Shining Star".[302][303]

In 2004, EWF and Chicago embarked upon a joint national tour, which gave rise to a DVD of a concert that took place at Los Angeles' Greek Theater titled Chicago & Earth, Wind & Fire – Live at the Greek Theatre. This DVD was released on June 28, 2005, and was certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA. Chicago and EWF later collaborated for a new recording of Chicago's ballad "If You Leave Me Now," that was included on Chicago's 2005 compilation album Love Songs. At the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards held on September 18, 2005, at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, the band performed as the opening act with The Black Eyed Peas.[304]

During September 2005, Illumination, EWF's 19th studio album, was issued on Sanctuary Records. On this album EWF collaborated with artists such as, Kelly Rowland, Outkast's Big Boi, Floetry and Brian McKnight. Illumination reached No. 8 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 32 on the Billboard 200 chart.[305][306]

Raymond Fiore of Entertainment Weekly described the LP as a mix of "modern beats and retro, horn-lined soul".[307] Steve Jones of USA Today noted that on the album EWF are as "vibrant as ever".[308] Illumination received a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album and a Soul Train Music Award nomination in the category of Best R&B-Soul Album. EWF also received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Duo or Group.[12][309][310]

A song from the album, called "Pure Gold", reached No. 23 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.[311] EWF also covered Outkast's "The Way You Move" featuring saxophonist Kenny G on the album. The single got to No. 12 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart.[312][313] Another single titled "Show Me The Way", featuring neo soul singer Raphael Saadiq got to No. 16 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart.[314] Show Me The Way was also Grammy nominated in the category of Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[12]

In 2006, Maurice worked with Maurice Hines, brother of famed entertainer Gregory Hines, to release the Broadway play Hot Feet. This was a jukebox musical with its theme the music of Earth, Wind & Fire. Maurice co-wrote with Allee Willis several new songs for the play.[315] On February 11, 2007 EWF performed "Runaway Love" alongside Mary J. Blige and Ludacris at the 49th Grammy Awards held at Los Angeles's Staples Center.[316]

Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 U.S. Open August 25, 2008
Earth, Wind & Fire performing at the opening ceremony of the 2008 U.S. Open August 25, 2008

Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire, an album featuring cover versions of EWF's material, was released in March 2007 on Stax Records. Executively produced by Maurice, the LP featured artists such as Chaka Khan, Kirk Franklin, Lalah Hathaway, Mint Condition, Dwele, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Angie Stone. The album rose to no. 28 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[317][318] Kirk Franklin's cover of September reached No. 17 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart and No. 26 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart.[319][320] Dwele's rendition of "That's the Way of the World" and Meshell Ndegeocello's cover of "Fantasy" were each nominated for Grammies in the category of Best Urban/Alternative Performance.[321][322]

On April 25, 2007, EWF performed as the opening act at a special edition of American Idol entitled "Idol Gives Back". At the gala the band performed a medley of "Boogie Wonderland", "Shining Star" and "September".[323] At the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, on December 11, 2007, EWF performed Fantasy and September. The concert was broadcast to over 100 countries. Artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox, and Kylie Minogue also performed at the concert.[324]

During February 2008, EWF performed on the opening night of one of the oldest and largest musical festivals in Latin America, Chile's Viña del Mar Festival. The audience at the gala was so impressed by EWF's performance that the band was bestowed with the Gaviota de Plata (The Silver Seagull), which is the highest award that can be presented to an artist performing at the festival. EWF's song "In the Stone" has also been used for several years as the introductory theme for the festival's broadcasts.[325][326][327][328]

Earth, Wind & Fire tribute, Munich Olympic Walk of Stars on April 9, 2011
Earth, Wind & Fire tribute, Munich Olympic Walk of Stars on April 9, 2011

On March 10, 2008, the band was inducted into the Munich Olympic Walk Of Stars.[329] During May 2008 EW&F performed at the Apollo Theater's fourth annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.[330] Maurice White, Ralph Johnson, Philip Bailey, and Verdine White each received an honorary degree from the Arts and Media College at Columbia College Chicago's 2008 commencement exercises. During the ceremony Verdine White and Johnson both gave acceptance speeches before all four honorees gave an impromptu performance of "Shining Star".[331][332] EWF performed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 US Open, which was hosted by Forest Whitaker and served to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of tennis's Open Era with a parade of more than 25 former US Open singles champions.[333]

EWF performed at the White House on February 22, 2009, for the Governors' Dinner; they were the first musical artists to perform there since Barack Obama took office.[334] During April 2009 former EWF keyboardist Robert Brookins died from a heart attack, at the age of 46.[335] On April 26, 2009, EWF appeared at the 39th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.[336] The band then aligned with Chicago once again for a joint tour to 30 US cities.[337] In September 2009 EWF were bestowed with the Daniel L. Stephenson award for lifetime achievement in music at the Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival.[338]

During February 2010 the band participated in the recording of the "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" single.[339][340] Within that year Maurice White, Philip Bailey and Verdine White together with former EWF members Al McKay and Larry Dunn were inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.[341][342]

In November 2011, the band received the Legend Award at the Soul Train Awards at Atlanta, Georgia's Fox Theatre.[343] In 2012, EWF were bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th Annual Trumpet Awards, held at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.[344] On February 29, 2012, former EWF rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista died, at the age of 60.[345]

Earth Wind & Fire, along with former Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton and Charlie Wilson, guested on the LL Cool J track "Something About You". The song went on to appear on his 2013 album Authentic.[346]

Now, Then & Forever, the group's first album in eight years, was released on September 10, 2013.[347]

On January 13, 2014, former percussionist Beloyd Taylor, who co-wrote the band's 1976 hit "Getaway", died.[348] During February 2014 EWF performed alongside Pharrell, Janelle Monae at the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.[349] Just a few months later, on May 2, former lead vocalist Jessica Cleaves died at the age of 65 following complications from a stroke.[350]

On September 13, 2014, EWF performed at Proms in the Park at Hyde Park with the BBC Concert Orchestra.[351] On October 21, 2014, EWF released their first ever holiday album, titled Holiday.[352] That album rose to No. 26 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Holiday Albums chart.[353][354] On December 8, 2014, EWF performed at the Kennedy Center Honors, honoring Al Green.[355] On December 14, 2014, the band performed at the Christmas in Washington event.[356]

EWF founder and leader Maurice White died on February 4, 2016, after suffering for some years with Parkinson's disease. He was survived by his wife, his two sons, daughter and his brothers Verdine and Fred.[357] Along with EW&F, Maurice White was posthumously bestowed with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Grammy Awards ceremony on February 15, 2016 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. At the ceremony Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix performed a rendition of That's the Way of the World in tribute to White.[358] During December 4 of that year, the band were also honoured with a Ebony Lifetime Achievement Award at the Ebony Power 100 Gala held in the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.[359]

On June 6, 2017 Earth, Wind & Fire performed in downtown Nashville, Tennessee at the CMT concert series program, CMT Crossroads, with artists such as Dan + Shay, Martina McBride, Rascall Flatts, Antebellum, Darius Rucker and Sara Evans. A performance of September with Antebellum on the show was nominated for a CMT Music Award in the category of Performance of the Year.[360][361] During Summer 2017 the band went on a North American tour entitled, 2054-The Tour, with Chic.[362]

EW&F went on to perform on the forum float at the 2018 Rose Parade held in Pasadena, California.[363] On May 2, 2018 the band started a Las Vegas Residency at the Venetian Theatre, Las Vegas, Nevada.[364]

On September 10, 2019 The Los Angeles City Council declared that September 21 would now be dedicated Earth, Wind & Fire Day in honour of the group.[365] During November 22 of that year the band received the Portrait of a Nation Prize at the Smithsonian's American Portrait Gala.[366] EW&F were one of the inductees at the 42nd Kennedy Center Honors which took place on December 7, 2019.[15] Earth, Wind & Fire became the first Black group to be inducted into Kennedy Honors.[367] The band later guested on Meghan Trainor's October 2020 Christmas Album A Very Trainor Christmas.[368]

Earth, Wind and Fire reached the top 10 of Billboard’s Adult R&B Airplay chart for the first time in 28 years after their new single “You Want My Love,” featuring Lucky Daye, improved to No. 9 on the chart dated September 18, 2021.[369]


Earth, Wind & Fire's songs have been covered by artists including Whitney Houston, D'Angelo, Donny Osmond, Patti LaBelle, Taylor Swift, Olly Murs and Kirk Franklin.[370][371][372] They have also been covered by Wynonna Judd, Maxine Nightingale, Yolanda Adams, Ledisi, Miki Howard, Chicago, Chaka Khan and 112.[371][372]

EWF has been sampled by artists such as Drake, A Tribe Called Quest, Missy Elliott, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, the Fugees, LL Cool J, Kid Ink, Salt-n-Pepa and Basement Jaxx. The band has also been sampled by the likes of Björk, Diddy, The Roots, Will Smith, Nas, TLC, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Big Sean, Tupac Shakur and MC Lyte.[370][371][372]

EWF has influenced artists such as Beyoncé,[373] Usher,[374],[375] Janelle Monáe,[376] Mary J. Blige,[377] Prince,[378] Pharrell Williams,[379] India Arie,[254] Jon Secada,[380] and Wyclef Jean.[254] They have also been influential to artists like Angie Stone,[381] Patrice Rushen,[382] The All-American Rejects,[383] Nelly[384] Teena Marie,[385] Musiq Soulchild,[254] Solange Knowles,[386] Babyface,[387] Taylor Dayne,[388] Will Gregory of Goldfrapp,[389] OutKast,[390] and Gloria Estefan.[391]

Artists such as Jamiroquai,[392] Melissa Etheridge,[393] Pitbull,[394] Lenny Kravitz,[395]Vanessa Williams,[396] Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers,[397] Justice[398] Omarion,[399] Rob Bourdon of Linkin Park,[400] Jill Scott,[254] and Justin Timberlake have also been influenced by EWF.[401] The band has influenced artists such as Bonnie Raitt,[402] Erykah Badu,[403] Jamie Foxx,[404] Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy,[405] Lalah Hathaway,[406] Amy Winehouse,[407] and Meghan Trainor.[408]

Miles Davis described EWF as his "all time favorite band", saying, "they have everything (horns, electric guitar, singers and more) in one band".[409] Quincy Jones has proclaimed himself to be the "biggest fan of Earth, Wind & Fire since day one."[410] Alicia Keys has proclaimed EWF as being "the best band ever".[411] Dionne Warwick has named Earth, Wind & Fire as her favorite group of all time.[412] Mark Ronson has also proclaimed that he loves "anything by Earth, Wind & Fire".[413]

In the movie BAADASSSSS!, the actor Khalil Kain portrayed a young Maurice White leading the early incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire. 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.[414][415]


  • Philip Bailey – lead vocals, conga, percussion, kalimba (1972–1984; 1987–present)
  • Verdine White – bass guitar, backing vocals (1970–1984; 1987–present)
  • Ralph Johnson – percussion, backing vocals (1972–1984; 1987–present); drums (1972–1984)


  • B. David Whitworth – percussion, vocals (1996–present)
  • Myron McKinley – keyboards, musical director (2001–present)
  • John Paris – drums, vocals (2001–present)
  • Philip Bailey, Jr. – vocals, percussion (2008–present)
  • Morris O'Connor – lead guitar, vocals (2008–present)
  • Serg Dimitrijevic – rhythm guitar, vocals (2012–present)

Awards and nominations


Studio albums

See also


  1. ^ King, Jason (February 5, 2016). "Maurice White: The Audacity of Uplift". NPR Music. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Maurice White". Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  3. ^ Light, Alan (1992). The Kalimba Story. Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ "GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends Earth, Wind & Fire Medley". PBS. September 29, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c O'Keefe, Meghan (April 22, 2014). "Happy Earth, Wind & Fire Day!". VH1.
  6. ^ a b c d "Earth, Wind & Fire". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  7. ^ a b "Earth, Wind & Fire". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "The Vocal Group Hall Of Fame". Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
  9. ^ Wang, Oliver (February 5, 2016). "Maurice White: five deep cuts from the Earth, Wind & Fire co-founder". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  10. ^ "Earth, Wind & Fire Members".
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Nathan, David (1992). The Eternal Dance. Earth, Wind & Fire: The Eternal Dance. Columbia Records.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Earth, Wind & Fire". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. November 23, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Legendary R&B Group Earth, Wind & Fire Inducted into Hollywood's Rockwalk". ASCAP. July 7, 2003.
  14. ^ Totland, Colton (June 20, 2012). "Congressional medals awarded to community-driven youths". The Washington Times.
  15. ^ a b "Celebrate the 2019 Honorees". Kennedy Center. December 8, 2019.
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Further reading

External links

Media related to Earth, Wind & Fire at Wikimedia Commons

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