Today, the world is mourning yet another death of a great, massively influential musician. After Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White died in his sleep yesterday morning at age 74 due to complications with Parkinson’s disease (which had stopped him from touring with the band in the 90s), a bounty of other musicians took to social media to express both their bereavement and their appreciation of his and his band’s legacy.
The outpour of condolences from the music community followed an initial announcement by White’s younger brother/EWF bassist, Verdine White. “My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” he told the Associated Press. “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.”
Maurice White was the core, foundational member, lead songwriter and one of the lead vocalists of the band (which he assembled in 1969) that famously commingled a vast number of genre influences, most prominently R&B and soul, and became the first black group to sell out Madison Square Garden. Among the many musicians who’ve cited them as influences, Questlove posted a particularly poignant explanation of White’s trailblazing and impact on Instagram. He said:
Maurice was our cheerleader. I just really wanna thank him and than all the members of #EWF shining that light brighter. You know how hard it is to present Afrocentric Jazz & spiritual positivity in the face of what we had to deal with in the 70s? When times were hard sometimes the only release you had was music. & if it wasn’t Stevie, you were reaching for your #EarthWindAndFire albums. I would get so lost in those records man. Just lose myself.
The remaining members of the band tweeted this morning:
Meanwhile, a variety of other musicians — including Lenny Kravitz, Bette Midler, Quincy Jones, Solange, and the members of Wu Tang Clan — have expressed their sadness about White’s death and reflection on his and his band’s work on Twitter:
Of course, not all reflection was coming from musicians: