Earth, Wind & Fire is an African-American Funk band led by Maurice White that achieved worldwide success in the 1970s. The group was formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1969. They are known for a number of hit singles, including „Shining Star” „September” „Boogie Wonderland” and „Let’s Groove”.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1941, bandleader and founder Maurice White moved to Chicago as a teenager and found work as a session drummer for Chess Records. By 1967, he was the new drummer in the Ramsey Lewis Trio, replacing Red Holt. In 1969, Maurice left the Ramsey Lewis Trio, and joined two friends in Chicago, Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, as a songwriting team which wrote songs and commercials in the Chicago area. The three friends got a recording contract with Capitol, and called themselves the „Salty Peppers,” and had a marginal hit in the Midwestern area called „La La Time.”
The Salty Peppers’ second single, „Uh Huh Yeah,” didn’t fare as well, and Maurice decided it was time for a change of location – and a change in the band’s name, which turned into Earth, Wind & Fire. This was based on the fact that White’s astrological sign being Sagittarius, had a primary elemental quality of Fire but also had seasonal qualities which are Earth, and Air, hence the omission of water.
White recruited Chicago singer Sherry Scott, along with local percussionist Phillard Williams, and then asked his younger brother Verdine whether he’d like to head out West. Verdine White joined the band in 1970 as their new bassist.
Maurice held auditions in L.A., adding Michael Beale on guitar, Chester Washington on reeds, Leslie Drayton for trumpet and initially the group’s musical arranger, and trombonist Alex Thomas to the lineup. With Flemons playing vibes and electric piano and vocals, and Verdine on bass, percussion and vocals, a ten-member Earth, Wind & Fire was born. Their self-titled debut album, Earth, Wind & Fire, was released in 1970 to great critical acclaim, as was The Need of Love (1971). A single, from this album „I Think About Lovin’ You” provided EWF with their first Top 40 R&B hit. However, some members of EWF were feeling decidedly restless and the band broke up after having been together for less than six months. Maurice White decided to re-form the group and he started holding auditions.