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Rock and Roll Heaven: Maurice White (1941 - 2016)

 

 

The incredibly talented Maurice White, musician, producer, songwriter, and founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, went to Rock & Roll Heaven on February 4, 2016. His influence can be heard everywhere, from the music he left behind to the musicians that he continues to inspire today.

 

Maurice was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, where he formed a band with childhood friend Booker T. Jones while attending Booker T. Washington HIgh School. He later moved to Illinois to attend the Chicago Conservatory of Music while playing drums in local nightclubs.

 

He began his professional career as a session drummer for Chess Records, appearing on records for the legendary Etta James, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and others. He also played with local band Jazzmen (later the Pharaohs), featuring several fellow Chess players.

 

White continued playing with a variety of bands and on award-winning records for other stars until 1969,  when he joined friends Don Whitehead and Wade Flemons to form the Salty Peppers. The trio signed with Capitol Records and had a small hit in the Midwest with "La La Time."

 

La La Time - The Salty Peppers

 

The group released a second song, "Uh Huh Yeah," but didn't match their modest success. The group relocated to Los Angeles, where they renamed themselves after their astrological signs: Earth, Wind & Fire. With Maurice front and center, the band grew to include a horn section and enough singers and musicians to fill a stage. They went on to have numerous hits through the decades, riding the waves of soul, funk, disco, and even 80s pop.

 

Shining Star - Earth, Wind & Fire on The Midnight Special

 

 

 After the Love Has Gone

 

 September

 

White earned numerous awards throughout his career, including four American Music Awards, ASCAP (songwriting) awards in the Pp and Rhythm and Soul categories, three NAACP image awards, and an ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Heritage Award. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

 

White went to Rock & Roll Heaven on February 4, 2016. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and two brothers.

 

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