- 04 Jan 23
Fred White was among the early members of Earth, Wind & Fire, along with brothers Verdine and Maurice.
Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White has died at the age of 67, the band and White’s brother, Verdine, announced on January 1.
No cause of death was given by his family. The musician - brother of Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White - began drumming professionally as a teenager and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 alongside fellow members of the legendary group.
The genre-defying outfit are among the best-selling bands of all time, with sales of over 90 million records worldwide. Formed in the late 1960s by Maurice White, who died in 2016 at the age of 74; Earth, Wind & Fire featured a host of different artists as the years rolled by.
Fred White was one of the founding members of the band and played on many of Earth, Wind & Fire's hit albums and songs including 'September', 'Boogie Wonderland', 'Saturday Nite' and 'Shining Star'. White was a drum prodigy, touring with the likes of Donny Hathaway before finishing high school and joining his siblings in Earth, Wind & Fire before his 20th birthday.
His arrival in the band in 1974 installed him in the twin-drummer engine room of a hit-making powerhouse; the band’s commercial heyday began a year later with US No.1 single 'Shining Star'. With a mix of rousing ballads and body-moving soul, Earth, Wind & Fire became pop figureheads of the disco era.
He also featured on recordings by US singers such as Hathaway and Jennifer Holliday. White left the group in the early 1980s but returned for their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000. He continued to sing with artists including Diana Ross and Bonnie Raitt, most recently on Ross’ 2021 comeback album.
A statement shared on Instagram by his brother and bandmate Verdine White, said: "Dearest family, friends and fans, our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member, our beloved brother Frederick Eugene "Freddie" White.
"He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels! Child protege, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the young age of 16 years old! He was brother number four in the family line-up.
"And we could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light hearted! He will live in our hearts forever, rest in power beloved Freddie!! We thank you all for your love, blessings and support at this time. Soar high baby bro, we love you to the shining and back!"
Lenny Kravitz remembered White as a "true king" as he paid tribute under the Instagram post: "Sending my love and deepest condolences to you and the family. I was blessed to have been in his presence and blessed to have been influenced by him. A true king. Rest in power."
The band’s official Instagram page also posted a video of White solo drumming at a concert at Rockpalast in Essen, Germany as part of their Tour of the World in 1979 in tribute to the late musician.
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