It does seem we are losing a lot of musical legends recently. Yesterday we heard the sad news of the death of founding member of Earth Wind and Fire, Maurice White. It has been announced that he has died at the age of 74 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Readers of my 100 Essential CD countdown will know how much I have loved Earth Wind & Fire over the years and how highly I rate their 1977 album “All N All” and their 1996 best of compilation “Let’s Groove“. Maurice has been responsible over the years for a great body of work including my all time favourite single “Fantasy” which he produced and co-wrote.
Even back in the 70’s Maurice didn’t really look like a pop star but squeeze him into a tight brightly coloured spangly one piece suit and he became as cool as you like. One of my musical regrets is that I never saw Maurice and EW&F perform live in their heyday. The shows were always a grand spectacle and put back the showmanship in live performance which at the time was becoming overblown by stadium rock acts and on the other side of the coin minimalist punk performances. Earth Wind and Fire ensured that disco was cool and their music still fills dance floors today.
Maurice’s song-writing and production work also benefited artists such as Deniece Williams, Jennifer Holliday and the Emotions. He was a major talent in the music business for many years and will be greatly missed.
Chris Rizak over on the SoulTracks site in his obituary states “his influence on popular music is difficult to overstate. As a songwriter, producer, arranger and singer, he was elite. As a visionary who wholeheartedly believed in the power of music to tell truths, help lives and transform society, he was one of a kind”. I think that just about sums Maurice White up perfectly.
To remember this man I have chosen a video which comes from the big selling 1979 album “I Am” on which he turns in a superb lead vocal performance and is one of the great Earth Wind & Fire ballads
Maurice White ( 1941- 2016) Rest in peace