Home Entertainment Earth Wind & Fire Drummer Fred White has passed away at the age of 67

Earth Wind & Fire Drummer Fred White has passed away at the age of 67

by Ana Lopez
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One of Earth Wind & Fire’s two drummers during the band’s most prosperous decade, 1974-1984, Fred White passed away on Monday at the age of 67. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Brother to Verdine White and half-brother to Maurice White, White was an integral part of the ensemble’s family tradition. He no longer belongs to the band, but in 2000, along with other founding members, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

White played drums on albums by musicians such as Little Feat, Donny Hathaway, the Emotions and Deniece Williams in the 1970s, in addition to appearances on legendary EWF albums beginning with “That’s the Way of the World” in 1975 and continued by “Electric Universe” in 1983.

Verdine White announced the death on Instagram. “Dear Family, Friends and Fans… Our family is saddened today by the loss of a wonderful and talented family member, our beloved brother Frederick Eugene ‘Freddie’ White,” wrote Verdine. “He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte and Ronald in heaven and now drums with the angels! Child protege, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the age of 16! He was brother number 4 in the family lineup. But more than that, at home and out, he was the great brother who was always entertaining and wonderfully naughty!

Continued Verdine White in his post, “And we could always count on him to lighten up a seemingly bad situation! He will live in our hearts forever; rest in peace dear Freddie!! We thank you all for your love, blessings and support. Rise high baby, we love you to the core [stars] and back!”

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Some other musical giants weighed in on reactions to Verdine’s post. “Sending my love and deepest condolences to you and the family,” wrote Lenny Kravitz. “I was blessed to be in his presence and blessed to be influenced by him. A real king. Rest in strength.” wrote Nile Rodgers, “Sincere condolences, love and respect.” “Love,” Questlove replied.

Three original Earth, Wind members of the lineup still perform with the band: Ralph Johnson on drums and percussion, Philip Bailey on vocals, and Verdine White on bass. The band’s frontman, Maurice White, passed away in 2016. Andrew Woolfolka saxophonist from that crucial era, passed away in April 2022.

Johnson shared drumming duties with Fred White during their ten-year tenure in the band together. “Having two drummers on stage was key to the band’s big sound,” wrote Drum magazine.

Fred White dies
Fred White dies

Considering Fred White’s youth compared to the band’s height, it may come as no shock that the drummer started playing professionally when he was a teenager. He first met Hathaway when he was 15 and toured with him. Before ever joining his siblings in EWF, White’s stint led to his performance on “Donny Hathaway Live,” considered one of the pivotal live recordings of the soul era.

On Instagram, the official EWF account shared a video of White doing a drum solo “during our performance of ‘Runnin’,’ during our 1979 Tour of the World, at Rockpalast in Essen, Germany. Rest in love.” Under that initial message, Verdine White apologized for serving as the initial announcement of his brother’s death. “Friends and fans, sorry this information was posted before I could make an official statement,” wrote Verdine there. “Yes, we all mourn the loss, especially Fred’s family. Thank you for your love, blessings and condolences.”

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Given the continued success of so many of the band’s songs, it’s hard to imagine that only one of their singles, “Shinin’ Star,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Eight of their singles, including “September” and the cover of the Beatle’s “Got to Get You Into My Life”, both in 1978, peaked at the top of the R&B chart, they also had the No. 6 and No. 10 singles on the Hot 100 in 1979 with “Boogie Wonderland” respectively and “After the Love is Gone” No. 2. By far, their best-selling single, “September”, which only peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100, has been certified six times platinum.

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