In The 1970s Earth Wind And Fire

updated February 2016

The founder of soul group Earth, Wind & Fire, Maurice White, has died in the US, his brother has said.
White, 74, died in his sleep in Los Angeles on Thursday morning. He suffered from Parkinson's Disease.
His band had a series of hits including September, Boogie Wonderland, Shining Star and After the Love has Gone.

The singer-songwriter was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1992 but his condition was reported to have got worse in recent months.
Earth, Wind & Fire were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and Maurice was individually inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010.

 In 1976, Maurice took over the reins of producing the Emotions and it was with this combo that the album Rejoice was released in 1977. Rejoice peaked at number 7 and number 1 on the pop and R&B charts and spawned the singles "Best of My Love" and "Don't Ask My Neighbors" which reached number 1 on the Pop and R&B charts and number 7 on the R&B charts respectively.


This Chicago based group started as a band back in 1969 and was put together by Maurice White an bandleader, producer and musician. Maurice is also in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Another member was Phil Bailey, who had a No.1 duet with Phil Collins in the 1980s. Along with Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn and Al McKay the group entered into the 70s music.

Selling ninety million albums and winning several Grammy awards and a host of others the band are for sure are of the soundtrack of the 70s teenagers. Although they had moderate U.S. hits it was not until 1976 that they achieved UK single success.

Saturday Night was the first single written by White, Bailey and McKay and came from the album Spirit on Columbia Records which went double platinum in America.


      

Moving on to 1978 when the group touched the UK charts again with Fantasy from the album All N  All and was nominated for a Grammy award.




A smaller hit that year was Got To Get You Into My Life reaching No. 33, but the next single was their highest UK single hit getting to No.3 with September from the album I Am. It was the first song Willis wrote with the band, and quite a learning experience. Says Willis: "Their stuff was very much based on Eastern philosophies, an incredibly positive outlook on life; the lyrical content of their songs was not typical of what would have been in Soul music at that time. So when I left the studio that first day, Maurice gave me the name of a book, it was called The Greatest Salesman In The World, and he sent me to the Bodhi Tree, which is a very spiritual bookstore here in L.A. I got that and a bunch of other books that the saleswoman said was the philosophy. And what went from being a very simple experience turned into, for me, an incredibly complex experience. 


    

1979 saw the group dominate the single and album charts. The first hit single of the year was Boogie Wonderland with the Emotions. This is a classic disco in the 1970s and with the help of the Emotions a band  of ladies who had a 1977 UK hit in 1977 with Best Of My Love. This classic form Earth Wind And Fire appears to have gone GOLD everywhere.

Allee Willis: "It was 1978, and every song had 'boogie' in the title. And I was always someone who really wanted to be different. I was a journalism major in college, and I didn't like song lyrics that didn't hold up as kind of stories if you were to just happen to read them and didn't hear the music. And the series of 'boogie' songs that were coming out lyrically were especially stupid to me, even though I loved and still love disco music more than any music that ever existed. So I really wanted to write a disco song, but I wanted it lyrically to be almost in a different genre than what the standard was. So we kept thinking of other ways that we could use the word 'boogie' other than just to dance."



    


Boogie Wonderland got to No.4 as did the next single called After The Love Has Gone and won a Grammy for the writers  Foster, Graydon and Champlin. The very last top thirty hit of the 1970s was Star yet another release from the LP I Am.

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