Earth, Wind & Fire

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 vocal groups (The Rip Chords, Mike Sheridan & 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

Earth, Wind & Fire released their self-titled debut album in February 1971 on Warner Bros.


The Need of Love

Earth, Wind & Fire released their second album, The Need of Love, in November 1971 on Warner Bros.


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.

“Evil”
Released: June 1973

“Keep Your Head to the Sky”
Released: October 1973


Open Our Eyes

Earth, Wind & Fire released their fifth album, Open Our Eyes, on March 25, 1974, on Columbia.

“Mighty Mighty”
Released: February 1, 1974
“Kalimba Story”
Released: June 14, 1974
“Devotion”
Released: September 7, 1974


Another Time

On September 7, 1974, Warner Bros. released the double-album Another Time, a compilation of the first two Earth, Wind & Fire albums with one additional track, “Handwriting on the Wall.”


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.

“Shining Star”
Released: January 21, 1975

“That’s the Way of the World”
Released: June 17, 1975


Gratitude

On November 11, 1975, Earth, Wind & Fire released the double-album Gratitude, comprised of three live sides and a fourth side of new studio material.

“Sing a Song”
Released: November 1975
“Can’t Hide Love”
Released: March 1976


Spirit

Earth, Wind & Fire released their seventh studio album, Spirit, on September 28, 1976, on Columbia.

“Getaway”
Released: July 7, 1976

“Saturday Nite”
Released: November 13, 1976
“On Your Face”
Released: April 6, 1977


All ‘n All

Earth, Wind & Fire released their eighth album, All ‘n All, on November 21, 1977, on Columbia.

“Serpentine Fire”
Released: October 15, 1977

“Fantasy”
Released: January 1978

“Fantasy” (Japan)

“Jupiter”
Released: April 1978
“Magic Mind”
Released: July 1978


The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1

On November 23, 1978, Columbia released The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1, a compilation of songs from their three prior albums plus three new songs.

“Got to Get You Into My Life”
Released: July 14, 1978

“September”
Released: November 18, 1978

“Love Music”


I Am

Earth, Wind & Fire released their ninth album, I Am, on June 9, 1979, on Columbia.

“Boogie Wonderland”
Released: May 6, 1979
“After the Love Has Gone”
Released: July 12, 1979

“In the Stone”
Released: October 14, 1979

“Star”
Released: December 6, 1979

“Can’t Let Go”
Released: December 30, 1979


Faces

Earth, Wind & Fire released their tenth album, Faces, on October 14, 1980, on Columbia.

“Let Me Talk”
Released: August 1980

“You”
Released: November 1980
“Back on the Road”
Released: November 1980

“And Love Goes On”
Released: January 1981


Raise!

Earth, Wind & Fire released their eleventh album, Raise!, on November 14, 1981, on Columbia.

“Let’s Groove”
Released: September 1981
“Wanna Be with You”
Released: December 1981

“I’ve Had Enough”
Released: January 1982

In the Netherlands, CBS lifted “The Changing Times” as a single (b/w “Evolution Orange”).


Powerlight

Earth, Wind & Fire released their twelfth album, Powerlight, on February 3, 1983, on Columbia.

“Fall in Love with Me”
Released: November 1982
“Side by Side”
Released: April 1983
“Spread Your Love”
Released: June 1983

In the Netherlands, CBS lifted “Straight From the Heart” as a single (b/w “Miracles”).


Electric Universe

Earth, Wind & Fire released their thirteenth album, Electric Universe, on November 4, 1983, on Columbia.

“Magnetic”
Released: November 1983
“Touch”
Released: January 1984
“Moonwalk”
Released: April 1984


Touch the World

Earth, Wind & Fire released their fourteenth album, Touch the World, in November 1987 on Columbia.

“System of Survival”
Released: September 22, 1987
“You and I”
Released: December 1, 1987
“Thinking of You”
Released: January 5, 1988
“Evil Roy”
Released: March 22, 1988


Discography:

Sources:

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