There was this amazing guy, see — born in Memphis, moved to Chicago as a teenager, studied at a conservatory, learned drums, got a gig as a session drummer at the legendary Chess Records at age 22, worked on recordings for the likes of Etta James, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, and hit singles like Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me” and Billy Stewart’s “Summertime,” was a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio (1966-1969), formed a songwriting team, wrote songs for commercials, got signed by Capitol as The Salty Peppers, worked on his vocals, learned the kalimba, and moved to Los Angeles.
A fascination with Egyptology and spirituality led him to study the astrological charts for his sign, Sagittarius, which features the primary element of fire and the seasonal elements of earth and air. He’d been searching for a name for the new band he was forming, and now he’d found it in the elements: Earth, Wind & Fire.
His name was Maurice White, and he was a bonafide legend and a visionary. He is yet another in a flood of recent popular musician deaths — he passed away a month ago at age 74 from the effects of Parkinson’s disease.