Earth, Wind & Fire drummer Fred White has died, the band and White’s brother, Verdine, revealed on Sunday (January 1). No cause of death was given. White was 67.
Born on Jan. 13, 1955 in Chicago, White started in the music industry as a prodigy – beginning his career on drums at just 15 years old. He toured with the likes of Donny Hathaway before finishing high school (including in the show immortalized on Donny Hathaway Live) and joined his siblings in Earth, Wind & Fire before his 20th birthday.
His arrival in the band in 1974 installed him a spot in the hit-making group. The band’s commercial success began a year later with "Shining Star," a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100. With a mix of rousing ballads and inspiring soul, Earth, Wind & Fire became figureheads of the disco era – offering hits like 1976’s “Saturday Nite,” “Boogie Wonderland,” and the mega-hit "September."
White left the group in the early 1980s but returned for their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000. He continued to sing with artists including Diana Ross and Bonnie Raitt, most recently on Ross’ 2021 comeback album, Thank You.
On Instagram, Verdine White wrote his sibling “joins our brothers Maurice, Monte, and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels.” Philip Bailey, one of Earth, Wind & Fire’s original lead singers, also posted in Fred White’s honor, sharing an image celebrating the band’s 1980 double Grammy win. “We will miss you, Freddie,” he wrote. Finally, the official Instagram account for Earth, Wind & Fire posted a tribute, sharing a clip of a drum solo during Earth, Wind & Fire’s Tour of the World at Rockpalast in Essen, Germany in 1979.
See social media tributes to Fred White below.
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