Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White dies aged 67

LOS ANGELES (AFP-Jiji) — Drummer Fred White, an early member of U.S. band Earth, Wind & Fire, has died at age 67, his brother and former group announced Monday.

Born in 1955 in Chicago, White began drumming at an early age and went on to win six Grammy awards with the funk band, founded in 1969 by his brother, the late Maurice White.

“Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member,” wrote another of White’s brothers, Verdine, in an Instagram post.

“Child protege, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the young age of 16 years old!” wrote White’s older brother, also a former member of the group.

Earth, Wind & Fire quickly rose to fame in the 1970s, becoming one of the early acts to break the color barrier in pop music, winning a white fanbase while remaining favorites within the African American community.

In 1979, the band became the first Black act to sell out New York’s Madison Square Garden, then — as now — one of the most prestigious concert venues.

The band’s official Instagram page posted a video of White performing a drum solo at a 1979 concert in Germany.

“Rest in love,” the group wrote.

He went on to work with other performers, including soul singer Deniece Williams.

White — as a member of Earth, Wind & Fire — was inducted in 2000 into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The group won acclaim not only for songwriting but for its energetic live shows, led by a forceful horn section and featuring a kalimba, an African percussion instrument played by plucking metal tines.

While never disappearing completely, Earth, Wind & Fire enjoyed a career resurgence after the election of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who invited the band as one of the first entertainers when he entered the White House in 2009.