Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) is the name of an African-American band that reached their peak in the seventies with songs like "Fantasy", "September"  and "Boogie Wonderland".

The band in 1974

The band had many different line-ups since the beginning. Maurice White who was a session drummer for Chess Records and part of the Ramsey Lewis Trio joined two friends: Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead to form a songwriting team and called themselves "The Salty Peppers". Maurice's younger brother Verdine joined later.

Maurice's astrological sign is Sagittarius has a primary elemental quality of fire and seasonal qualities of earth and air. Based on this facts he changed the name of the band to Earth, Wind & Fire. He added Michael Beal on guitar, Chester Washington on reeds, Alex Thomas on trombone and Leslie Dayton on trumpet. Leslie at that point was the lead vocalist. The complete line up existed of 10 members at that time.

After two albums the line-up changed again and added vocalist Helena Davis, Ronnie Laws on Flute and saxophone, rhythm guitarist Roland Bautista, keyboardist Larry Dunn, vocalist Philip Bailey and percussionist Ralph Johnson. Helena was soon replaced by Jessica Cleaves from the band The Friends of Distincion. The band was then discovered during their live performances by Clive Davis from Columbia Records. This resulted in a contract with Warner Bros.

The album "Last Days And Time" from 1972 was the first album to make a big impression in the US. However Roland Bautista and Ronnie Laws left the band. They were replaced by saxophonist Andrew Woolfolk, rhythm guitarists Al McKay (Ike and Tina Turner Revue/The Watts 103rd St. Rythm Band) and Johnny Graham (New Birth). The next album "Head To The Sky" from 1973 even reached further heights in the US. Just like "Open Our Eyes" from 1974.

The band in 1975

In 1975 Earth, Wind & Fire released probably the best album of their career. It also was their best selling album in the US reaching #1. It was still before their worldwide breakthrough. Seen as a meditation on the rules of living, the album is nothing less than a spiritual soul masterpiece.


Movie promo poster

It was also the soundtrack of a movie not many people have seen produced by Sig Shore. It was about a band "The Group" and joined forces with producer Harvey Keitel to defeat evil forces at a record company. The movie was a flop but the album is now their most beloved album.

Shining Star - single cover

So far the music of EWF consisted of funk, african mysticism, latin, jazz and ballads. The album opens with their US #1 hit "Shining Star". They influenced artists like Prince and James Brown. One of the final co-productions between White and former Rotary Connection member Charles Stepney (who died the following year) were two ballads. "Reasons" was a favourite during concerts and the title track is a beautiful bossa nova influenced soul that reached #12 in the US when it was released as as the second single from the album.

The album was their breakthrough in the US and they didn't need the movie to reach this point.

Original album cover

That's The Way Of The World (1975)
Shining Star / That's the Way of the World / Happy Feelin' / All About Love / Yearnin' Learnin' / Reasons / Africano / See the Light


Shining Star

That's The Way Of The World