Earth, Wind & Fire are an American jazz-funk/soul band from Chicago that launched with two albums on Warner Bros. in 1971, followed by 11 studio albums and a live double-LP on Columbia between 1972 and 1983.
Members: Maurice White (vocals, kalimba, percussion, 1969-2016), Wade Flemons (keyboards, vocals, 1969-72), Don Whitehead (keyboards, 1969-72), Verdine White (bass, percussion, vocals, 1970-present), Sherry Scott (vocals, 1970-72), Phillard Williams (percussion, 1970-72), Michael Beale (guitar, 1970-72), Chester Washington (reeds, 1970-72), Leslie Drayton (trumpet, 1970-72), Alex Thomas (trombone, 1970-72), Ronnie Laws (flute, saxophone, 1972-73), Larry Dunn (keyboards, 1972-present), Ralph Johnson (drums, percussion, 1972-present), Philip Bailey (vocals, 1972-present), Jessica Cleaves (vocals, 1972-73), Roland Bautista (guitar, 1972-73, 1980-83), Johnny Graham (guitar, 1973-83), Al McKay (guitar, 1973-80), Andrew Woolfolk (saxophone, transverse flute, percussion, 1973-83, 1987-93), Fred White (drums, 1974-83), Don Myrick (saxophone, 1975-93), Louis Satterfield (trombone, 1975-2005), Sheldon Reynolds (guitar, 1987-present), Sonny Emory (drums, 1987-present)
Earth, Wind & Fire grew from a Chicago three-piece called The Salty Peppers, which featured singer/percussionist Maurice White, singer/keyboardist Wade Flemons, and keyboardist Don Whitehead.
White (1941–2016) first drummed professionally in the early 1960s while enrolled at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. In 1962, he joined The Jazzmen, which later recorded as The Pharaohs. As a session drummer for Chess Records and its Cadet and Checker subsidiaries, he notched credits on albums by Herb Lance (The Comeback), Sonny Cox (The Wailer), Fontella Bass (The New Look), and Sonny Stitt & Bunky Green (Soul in the Night). In 1966, White joined the backing combo of Ramsey Lewis for a four-year, 10-album stint.
Flemons’ career stretched back to the late 1950s when he cut a slew of R&B singles and a self-tiled album for Vee Jay Records. At 17, he had a regional hit with his own composition “Here I Stand,” which was covered by multiple vocals groups (The Rip Chords, Mike Sheridan and the Night Riders). He co-wrote “Stay In My Corner,” twice recorded by The Dells (R&B #1, Pop #10).
For his 1968 Ramsel Records single “Jeanette,” Flemons partnered with Whitehead, who wrote its b-side “What a Price to Pay.” Whitehead, in turn, issued the 1969 two-sided single “The Funky Preacher” on Ref-O-Ree. They teamed with White in The Salty Peppers and had a regional hit with the two-sided 1969 Capitol single “La, La, La.” They followed it with the brassy raveup “Uh Huh Yeah,” backed with the swelling ballad “Your Love Is Life,” which Earth, Wind & Fire would record on their first album.
The trio moved to Los Angeles, where White enlisted singer Sherry Scott and called his younger brother, bassist Verdine White, into the fold. They cut demos with singer Donny Hathaway and shopped them to various labels, scoring a contract with Warner Bros. To rename the band, White turned to his astrological sign, Sagittarius, for its two seasonal qualities, earth and air (wind), and its one elemental quality (fire).
Before entering the studio, the band enlarged to a 10-piece with guitarist Michael Beal, trumpeter Leslie Drayton, trombonist Alexander Thomas, reedist Chet Washington, and erstwhile Pharaohs percussionist Phillard Williams (aka Yackov Ben Israel). Washington’s prior credits included albums by Big Black (Lion Walk, 1968) and Duke Lumumba (Jungle Funk, 1969). Warner teamed the band with producer Joe Wissert (Gordon Lightfoot, Boz Scaggs), who would produce their first five albums.
Earth, Wind & Fire
The Need of Love
Last Days and Time
Earth, Wind & Fire released their third album, Last Days and Time, in October 1972 on Columbia.
Head to the Sky
Earth, Wind & Fire released their fourth album, Head to the Sky, in May 1973 on Columbia.
Open Our Eyes
Earth, Wind & Fire released their fifth album, Open Our Eyes, on March 25, 1974, on Columbia.
Released: February 1, 1974
Released: June 14, 1974
Released: September 7, 1974
That’s the Way of the World
Earth, Wind & Fire released their sixth album, That’s the Way of the World, on March 15, 1975, on Columbia.
All ‘n All
Earth, Wind & Fire released their eighth album, All ‘n All, on November 21, 1977, on Columbia.
Released: October 15, 1977
The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1
Earth, Wind & Fire released their ninth album, I Am, on June 9, 1979, on Columbia.
Earth, Wind & Fire released their tenth album, Faces, on October 14, 1980, on Columbia.
Released: September 1981
“Wanna Be with You”
Released: December 1981
“Fall in Love with Me”
Released: November 1982
“Side by Side”
Released: April 1983
“Spread Your Love”
Released: June 1983
Touch the World
“System of Survival”
Released: September 22, 1987
“You and I”
Released: December 1, 1987
“Thinking of You”
Released: January 5, 1988
Released: March 22, 1988
- Earth, Wind & Fire (1971)
- The Need of Love (1971)
- Last Days and Time (1972)
- Head to the Sky (1973)
- Open Our Eyes (1974)
- That’s the Way of the World (1975)
- Spirit (1976)
- All ‘n All (1977)
- I Am (1979)
- Faces (1980)
- Raise! (1981)
- Powerlight (1983)
- Electric Universe (1983)
- Touch the World (1987)
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