Earth, Wind & Fire Drummer, Fred White, Dies at 67

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Fred White, in a photo shared by his brother, Verdine White

Fred White, the youngest of four brothers who performed with the funk-soul band Earth, Wind & Fire during their hit-making heyday, was found dead in his home on New Year’s Day 2023. The news of his passing, at age 67 of unknown causes, was shared by his brother, Verdine White, in an Instagram post. “Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member, our beloved brother Frederick Eugene ‘Freddy’ White,” Verdine White wrote about the drummer. “He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte and Ronald in heaven and is now with the angels.” The complete post appears below.

Maurice White, the horn-driven band’s founder, died in 2017 at age 74 after suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for many years. The horn-driven band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Their heyday was from the mid-1970s into the early ’80s when they scored hit after hit. During their hugely successful career, their distinctive sound helped them sell over 100 million records and earn 20 Grammy nominations (for which they won six).

Fred White, born Jan. 13, 1955, in Chicago, Ill., joined Earth, Wind & Fire in 1974 at just 19 years old, after having performed with Donny Hathaway, Linda Ronstadt, and Little Feat (on the track “Spanish Moon”), among others.

He made his EW&F recording debut on their sixth album, 1975’s That’s the Way of the World. The massively successful album featured such crossover hits as “Shining Star” and the title track.

Beginning with “Shining Star” through 1981’s “Let’s Groove,” Earth, Wind & Fire earned ten Top 15 pop hits and 20 Top 10 R&B singles. Though “Shining Star” was their sole #1 pop hit, they enjoyed eight singles that topped the R&B charts including “September” and their Beatles cover “Got to Get You Into My Life.”

Their live performances were also highlighted by their colorful stage costumes.

Related: 10 great classic rock / soul songs

Between 1975 – 1981, they had five albums that charted in the top five of the Albums sales chart including the #1 That’s The Way of The World.

In a tribute to White, Lenny Kravitz wrote, “I was blessed to have been in his presence and blesed to have been influenced by him. A true king.” Frequent touring partners Chicago wrote, “So very sad. Truly sorry to hear this. 🙏”

Best Classic Bands Staff

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