Earth, Wind and Fire co-founder and vocalist Maurice White was found dead in Los Angeles on Thursday morning. The 74-year-old legend was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1992.
The legendary band announced White’s passing via a Twitter post saying, “Our brother Maurice White passed peacefully in his sleep this morning. The light is he, shining on you and me.”
The post immediately earned more than 13,000 likes and almost 16,000 retweets.
The band’s official website expressed grief over their loss by posting a picture of a younger White holding an umbrella. He had his back to the camera and heading toward three pyramids. The photo goes with a similar text: “The light is he, shining on you and me.”
Earth, Wind and Fire started in 1969 when White met with friends, soul singer Wade Herbert Flemons and keyboardist Don Whitehead. They formed a song writing team which became a band called “The Salty Peppers” under Capitol Records.
He eventually moved to Los Angeles where he was joined by his bassist brother Verdine. In 1970, the band was named “Earth Wind and Fire” composed of the White brothers, Whitehead, Flemons, female vocals Sherry Scott, percussionist Yackov Ben Israel, guitarist Michael Beal, trombonist Alex Thomas and tenor saxophonist Chet Washington.
Their self-titled debut album was released on the same year but in 1972, band members underwent reshuffling leaving only Maurice and his brother Verdine. The new members were singers Philip Bailey and Jessica Cleaves, percussionist Ralph Johnson, flute and sax player Ronnie Laws, keyboardist Larry Dunn and guitarist Roland Bautista.
It was also in 1972 when they signed in with CBS, and Laws and Bautista were replaced by guitarists Johnny Graham, guitarist Al McKay and reedman Andrew Woolfolk.
Billboard documents that the band’s success took off in 1973 and since then, the band has received numerous nominations and awards. Some of their hits include “Reasons,” “Fantasy,” “Best of My Love,” Got to Get You Into My Life,” “September,” “After the Love Has Gone,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Let’s Groove” and “Sunday Morning.”
TMZ notes that in 2000, EWF was inducted into the Rock & Roll of Fame and in 2010, White was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.