Maurice White Dead: Earth, Wind & Fire Cofounder, Composer Dies at 74

Maurice White
Maurice White of Earth Wind And Fire Michael Putland/Getty Images

Maurice White, one of the cofounders of R&B supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire, has died, his brother and bandmate Verdine White confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday, February 4. He was 74.

Verdine told the AP that Maurice died in his Los Angeles home on Wednesday, February 3. “My brother, hero and best friend Maurice White passed away peacefully last night in his sleep,” Verdine said on Thursday. “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.”

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The musician had been battling Parkinson’s disease since 1992, and his condition worsened over the past few months. In 1994, the disease forced White to stop touring with the beloved band. He made the announcement about his health to Rolling Stone in 2000.

Earth Wind & Fire
Earth Wind & Fire perform at Music for UNICEF Concert in 1979. Michael Putland/Getty Images

“I just got tired of not talking about it,” White said at the time. “I had pretty much disappeared from the scene; a lot of people had not seen me in a long time, and they started wondering what was happening.”

He founded Earth, Wind & Fire in the late 1960s and helped compose many of the band’s hits, including “Shining Star,” “Let’s Groove” and “September.” His works earned him six Grammys with the band alone. He was also inducted into numerous groups including the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

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Maurice explained to Rolling Stone why he needed time to rest in the same 2000 piece. “Part of it was the everyday travails of the road — I’d been on the road for 30 years, and it just gets to you, you know?” he said. “I traveled with the band for five years with Parkinson’s. I was treating it with medication then, and I still have it under control. It’s not taking anything away from me.”

Earth, Wind & Fire are among this year’s Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients at the 2016 Grammys. 

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