The Los Angeles-based band Earth, Wind & Fire took R&B in an idiosyncratic direction and in the process became one of the most successful forces on the musical landscape of the 1970s. Expanding on its funk foundations with elements of jazz, rock, psychedelia, African music and other genres, topped with a spirit of black consciousness and mystical idealism, EWF bridged the gap between the popular and the experimental.
The group underwent many lineup changes, but the constant was leader Maurice White (Dec. 19, 1941 - Feb. 3, 2016) and his bassist brother Verdine (b. July 25, 1951). Maurice formed the band after moving to Los Angeles from Chicago, where he had been a session drummer for Chess Records and a member of Ramsay Lewis’ group.
Singer Philip Bailey (b. May 8, 1951) added sentimental balladry to the EWF arsenal, and the group scored eight Top 10 albums during the ’70s. Its biggest singles included “Shining Star,” “That’s the Way of the World” and “Sing a Song.” They were also a major touring attraction, mounting shows full of lavish stagecraft, some of it designed by magician Doug Henning. They were installed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.