Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White dies aged 67

Drummer Fred White, who supported his brothers Maurice and Verdine White in the Grammy-winning ensemble Earth, Wind & Fire, has died. He was 67 years old.

Verdine White, vocalist, percussionist and bassist for the band, announced on her Instagram account on Sunday that her younger brother Frederick Eugene “Freddie” White had passed away. He did not say how or where his brother died.

Earth, Wind & Fire began in 1970 under the leadership of Maurice White, who created a band that could combine elements of jazz, funk, R&B, soul, dance, pop and rock, and celebrated African musicality and spiritualism. Driven by their horn section the Phenix Horns and a reputation for energetic, explosive live performances, the band’s popularity grew after moving to Columbia Records, which was then under the management of Clive Davis.

Fred White was already an accomplished drummer, playing for Donny Hathaway, before joining Earth, Wind & Fire in the mid-1970s. Paired alongside drummer and percussionist Ralph Johnson, the band’s rhythm section was tight and upbeat and prepared the ground for songs like “Boogie Wonderland” and “September” to become instant favorites.

Verdine White called her brother Fred a gifted child musician, “with gold records at the young age of 16!” Fred White stayed with the band until 1983.

“But more than that at home and beyond, he was the wonderful brother who was always entertaining and delightfully mischievous! And we could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation easier! writes White.

Some of the band’s greatest hits are still very popular, often sampled and used in countless films. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, played the 2005 Super Bowl halftime show and has six Grammys. The band’s “Got to Get You Into My Life” was on President Barack Obama’s first Spotify playlist.

The band’s most successful period began with the 1975 album “That’s The Way of The World” and continued for the rest of the decade. Other hits included “Serpentine Fire”, “Shining Star” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life”.

Maurice White died aged 74 in 2016.


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