Earth, Wind & Fire

With their sweet harmonies, unmistakable grooves, and epic lineup that sometimes included as many as ten musicians, Earth, Wind & Fire were a mainstay of modern music in the '70s and early '80s. The group was founded when Chicago-based session musician Maurice White joined with Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead, forming a trio known as the Salty Peppers. After some modest success, White and Flemons relocated to Los Angeles, where after holding auditions, they came up with a lineup of ten musicians for the R&B sensation that would be known as Earth, Wind & Fire. Among the new recruits was a percussionist and vocalist named Philip Bailey who would become the second lead in the group. They hit it big with their self-titled debut in 1971, followed in close succession by Head to the Sky in 1974. More popular albums would follow, including 1977's All 'N All and 1979's I Am, as well as hit singles like "Shinging Star," "September" and "After the Love Is Gone." The group won critical and commercial acclaim when they dabbled in electronic instrumentation with 1981's Raise!. Earth, Wind & Fire would take a hiatus from 1983 until 1987, during which time Maurice White produced music for artists like Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Cher, and Philip Bailey released several albums of his own, most notably Chinese Wall, which featured a duet with Phil Collins, "Easy Lover." After they reformed, Earth, Wind, and Fire released Millennium in 1993. White retired from touring the following year, leaving Bailey to take over lead duties on the road. The band continued to perform and record into the new millennium, even releasing Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire in 2007, an album featuring artists like Chaka Khan and Kirk Franklin covering Earth, Wind & Fire songs, all produced by Maurice White. White died in 2016 at the age of 74.