Maurice White, the bandleader, founder, chief songwriter and producer of Earth, Wind & Fire would have turned 77 years old today. He passed away in 2016 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for many years. Earth, Wind & Fire changed the face of pop music forever with their smooth, intricate funk, soul and R&B. They’ve been covered and sampled by many artists over the years and described by Miles Davis, Alicia Keys and Dionne Warwick, among others, as their favorite musical group of all-time
After playing with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and playing drums at Chess Records, White started Earth, Wind & Fire in Chicago in 1969. The band later moved to Los Angeles in the ’70s and began to find success midway into the decade, particularly with their album That’s The Way of the World. Their biggest hits throughout the years included “Shining Star,” “September,” “Let’s Groove” and “Sing A Song,” which were all co-written by White. Earth, Wind & Fire were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and they received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2016.
By 1974, though they had a few initial commercial flops, they already released five studio albums and were busy promoting their latest LP Open Our Eyes, which ended up going Platinum. On August 10, 1974, they played in St. Louis, Mo. at St. Louis Arena and recorded a show for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. The lineup for that show consisted of Maurice White (vocals, kalimba, percussion), Philip Bailey (percussion, conga, vocals), Larry Dunn (organ, synthesizer, piano, keyboards), Johnny Graham (guitar, percussion), Ralph Johnson (percussion, drums), Al McKay (guitar, percussion, vocals), Fred White (drums), Verdine White (bass, percussion, vocals) and Andrew Woolfolk (flute, sax, wind).
Listen to Earth, Wind & Fire perform live in St. Louis in 1974 below.