Maurice White, Earth Wind and Fire Singer, Dies at 74

He was founding member of group known for songs such as “September” and “Shining Star”

Maurice White, a founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire, died Wednesday, a representative for White told TheWrap on Thursday. He was 74.

According to White’s brother and fellow Earth, Wind & Fire member Verdine White, the musician died peacefully in his sleep.

“My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” White said in a statement provided to TheWrap. “While the world has lost another great musician and legend, our family asks that our privacy is respected as we start what will be a very difficult and life changing transition in our lives.

“Thank you for your prayers and well wishes,” Verdine White added.

White had long battled Parkinson’s Disease, which caused him to stop touring with the group in the 1990s, however, he retained executive control of the group.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1941, White moved to Chicago in his teens and worked as a session drummer for Chess Records, playing on tunes by artists including Etta James, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy.

White founded Earth, Wind & Fire in 1969. Incorporating genres including R&B, soul, funk, disco and pop, the group racked up a string of hits, including “September” and “Shining Star.”

White was also a record producer, producing not just Earth Wind & Fire’s records but working with artists including Deniece Williams and The Emotions.

Under White’s helm, Earth, Wind & Fire won six Grammy Awards. The group has also received an NAACP Hall of Fame Award and four American Music Awards. Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

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