19 December 1941
Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, United States
3 February 2016 (aged 74)
Maurice White (born December 19, 1941; died February 3, 2016) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger and bandleader. He was the founder of the band Earth, Wind & Fire and the older brother of current and former Earth, Wind & Fire members Verdine White and Fred White respectively. White served as the band's main songwriter and record producer, and was co-lead singer (along with Phillip Bailey). White has won seven Grammys, and was nominated for Grammys 21 times in total.
White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire, and he was individually inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Also known by his nickname Reese, he has worked with several famous recording artists such as Deniece Williams, The Emotions, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond.
White was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in the late 1980s, which led him to stop touring with Earth, Wind & Fire in 1994. However, White retained executive control of the band, and remained active in the music business.
White produced many famous artists, including Barbra Streisand, The Emotions, Ramsey Lewis, Jennifer Holliday, The Tubes, Deniece Williams, and Neil Diamond. He also worked with many Japanese and international artists, such as Charito and Urban Knightstogether with Ramsey Lewis.
In 1985, White released a solo album entitled Maurice White that included a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me," featuring a guest appearance by jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright and the moderate hit "I Need You." White's version of "Stand by Me" went to number 6 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and number 11 on the Adult Contemporary charts.
White also wrote songs for the movies Coming to America and Undercover Brother. Maurice has also composed music for the television series, Life Is Wild. Maurice also worked with Gregory Hines's brother, Maurice Hines, in 2006 to release the Broadway play Hot Feet and White and Allee Willis wrote several new songs for the play.
In the movie BAADASSSSS!, the actor Khalil Kain portrayed a young Maurice White leading the early incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire link link. Released at the Sundance Film Festival, the film was based on Melvin Van Peebles' struggles to film and distribute the movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and was directed by his son Mario Van Peebles.
The TV sitcom Hearts Afire used "That's The Way Of The World" as one of its theme songs and Maurice won an ASCAP Award as one of the song's writers.
White was called "an innovator" and "someone who has had a profound impact upon the music industry as a whole" by Chaka Khan and Lalah Hathaway observed that "his contribution as both a musician and a producer has been immeasurable". In addition, White has been cited as a main influence by artists such as Bilal and Lenny Kravitz.
White's younger brother, Verdine, an original member of Earth, Wind & Fire, still tours with the band as its bassist and a backing vocalist. Additionally, their brother Fred joined the band in 1974, when the band recorded "Devotion". Maurice owns two homes in California; one in Carmel Valley, and the other, a four level condominium in Los Angeles.
White died in his sleep after a long battle with Parkinson's disease at his home in Los Angeles, California on February 3, 2016 at the age of 74.
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States. Maurice has received 7 awards from 21 nominations and from these he has won one Grammy and been nominated 4 times as an individual performer.
1976 "Earth, Wind & Fire" Best Instrumental Composition Nominated
1978 "Got to Get You into My Life" Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Won
1978 "Fantasy" Best R&B Song Nominated
1979 "Maurice White" Producer of the Year Nominated
4 American Music Awards.
The BET Lifetime Achievement Award
An ASCAP Rhythm And Soul Award
An ASCAP Pop Music Award
Three NAACP Image Awards
An ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Heritage Award
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
A Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame
On May 16, 2005 Maurice was honored by Los Angeles Valley College as the first recipient of their Cultural Achievement Award Of Excellence.
On May 10, 2008 Maurice White and Philip Bailey received honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music.
On May 20, 2008 Maurice, Phillip Bailey, Ralph Johnson and Verdine White received honorary doctorates from Columbia College of Chicago.
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