EBONY POWER 100 GALA 2016
Earth, Wind & Fire and Nile
Rodgers were among the special honorees saluted at the Ebony Power 100 gala
at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles 1. Dec.
Jimmy Jam with Verdine White, Philip Bailey & Ralph Johnson
MUSICIANS TAKE UP CAUSE FOR 'BLURRED LINES' APPEAL
A copyright verdict was entered against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams
for their infringing work in 'Blurred Lines'. The jury found that the song
infringed on Marvin Gaye’s 'Got to Give It Up' from (1977).
The case is
now up on appeal and interestingly, a number of prominent musicians have
joined in and signed papers supporting Thicke’s and Williams’ appeal,
including members of EWF, John Oates, R. Kelly, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy’s
Patrick Stump, Tears For Fears’ Curt Smith, Juicy J, the Go-Go’s, Frank
Ocean collaborator Malay, Jennifer Hudson, and Train’s Patrick Monahan to
name a few. The position advocated that 'Blurred Lines' and 'Got to Give It
Up' have completely different melodies and song structures and do not share
any lyrics or “a sequence of even two chords played in the same order and
for the same duration.”
In their brief supporting the appeal the
musicians’ representatives wrote: “The verdict in this case threatens to
punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.
All music shares inspiration from prior musical works, especially within a
particular musical genre. By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing
the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment
is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process. The law
should provide clearer rules so that songwriters can know when the line is
crossed, or at least where the line is. One can only imagine what our music
would have sounded like if David Bowie would have been afraid to draw from
Shirley Bassey, or if the Beatles would have been afraid to draw from Chuck
Berry, or if Elton John would have been afraid to draw from the Beatles, or
if Elvis Presley would have been afraid to draw from his many influences.”
MAURICE WHITE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White died in February
2016 at age 74 after a
long battle with Parkinson’s disease, but before he passed, he wrote a book
sharing the story of his life and his award-winning group’s rise to fame.
The autobiography, titled 'Maurice White: My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire'
will be published Sept. 13. 2016. It details the adversities
and triumphs Maurice experienced throughout his life, including his mother
leaving him at age four in Memphis, where he was raised by his grandmother;
learning to play drums with childhood friend Booker T. Jones; playing with
the Ramsey Lewis Trio in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles; and, of
course, his many adventures with his pioneering and successful group Earth,
Wind & Fire. In the book, White also recounts his work with
Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, and dealing with the challenges of
MAURICE WHITE 1941-2016
Earth Wind & Fire
founder Maurice White passed away peacefully in his Los Angeles home
February 4th 2016. He was 74 years old.
HEAD TO THE SKY SACD
To The Sky (1973) is now available on Audio Fidelity 4.0 Quad Hybrid
SACD. Includes Multichannel mix in SACD Surround Sound and original
2-channel stereo mixes in SACD stereo and standard CD stereo. No bonus tracks.
GRAMMY LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Wind & Fire, Herbie Hancock, Jefferson Airplane, Linda Ronstadt, Ruth Brown,
Celia Cruz and Run DMC are to receive the 2016 Recording Academy’s Lifetime
Achievement Award which honors performers who have made contributions
of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording. The ceremony
will be held in the spring. [www.grammy.com]
'BEST OF VOL. 1' ON VINYL PICTURE DISC FOR RECORD STORE DAY
Legacy Recordings, the
catalog division of Sony Music, announces the label's line-up
of collectible 12", 10" and 7" vinyl releases pressed especially for Record
Store Day's Black Friday Nov. 27. 2015 .
EWF's monumental 1978 anthology, compiled the group's previously
charting songs -- including "Shining Star," "Sing a Song," "Getaway" and
"Fantasy" -- alongside 2 new tracks; a cover of the Beatles' "Got to
Get You Into My Life" (which won a Best Arrangement with Vocal Grammy for
Maurice White), and the classic "September" which was a Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. A Billboard Top 10, RIAA 5x
platinum-selling album, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 has been
pressed as a collectible picture disc, featuring the iconic EWF gold coin
logo plus a die-cut insert, especially for Record Store Day 2015.
THE CLASSIC CHRISTMAS ALBUM 2015
The Classic Christmas Album includes 13 tracks from Holiday (the
seasonal album released in 2014) with five additional tracks; "Gather Round"
(2005); "Get Your Hump On This Christmas" (feat. Cleveland Brown,
from Twentieth Century Fox Television's "A Cleveland Brown Christmas,"
airdate: December 13, 2009); "I Asked For A Miracle (God Gave Me You)"
(Philip Bailey with Full Force, produced by Full Force, recorded May 26,
1991); "Open Your Heart to Love" and "One World" (1990). [Tracklist]
SHUSEI NAGAOKA ILLUSTRATOR FOR EWF DIES AT 78
Nagaoka, an illustrator best known for making the imaginative, fantasy-based
album covers for EWF, Electric Light Orchestra and other bands in the 1970s
and 80s, died of a heart attack Tuesday 23. June 2015 at a hospital in Odawara,
Kanagawa Prefecture. He was 78.
Nagasaki native, the artist, whose real name was Shuzo Nagaoka, grew up
offshore in Iki, where he had moved to before Nagasaki was destroyed by an
atomic bomb in 1945. He quit Musashino Art University in Tokyo before
completing his studies and went on to establish his career as an
illustrator. After moving to the United States in 1970, Nagaoka based
himself in Hollywood and produced album covers for the popular artists and
bands at the time.
of his best known work appeared on the Earth, Wind & Fire albums All 'N
Allť and I Am as well as Electric Light Orchestra's Out Of The Blue. Nagaoka's works also included official posters for the Formula One Japanese
Grand Prix and the International Exposition in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture,
in 1985. Nagaoka returned to Japan about a decade ago.
VERDINE WHITE INTERVIEW
Verdine White is
by Zachary Stockill/popmatters.com
on, playing at the White House, and more...
HOLIDAY: EWF'S FIRST
is a spirited celebration of the holiday season, bringing together brand new
recordings of seasonal standards (Winter Wonderland, The Little Drummer Boy,
Sleigh Ride, Jingle Bell Rock), beloved carols (Joy to the World, Oh Come
All Ye Faithful, What Child Is This?, Away in a Manger, The First Noel), a
traditional Japanese winter song (Snow) a modern day Christmas song (Every
Day Is Like Christmas) and future EWF classics: Happy Seasons (inspired by
Happy Feeling), and December (inspired by September) featuring original
vocals from Maurice White. Produced by Philip J. Bailey and Myron McKinley,
Holiday is Earth, Wind & Fire's 21st studio album.
Available October 21.
RELAUNCH OF THE KALIMBA
White has relaunched his Kalimba
Music label which was originally established in 2003 to
promote Earth, Wind & Fire as well as up-and-coming artists. Kalimba
Music's first release is a re-mastered collector's edition of the 2003 EWF
album The Promise, a critically acclaimed full length set
which in its original run hit #19 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #5 on the
Top Independent Albums chart. It also scored a Grammy nomination for Best
Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for "Hold Me."
Kalimba Music has also signed keyboardist/composer Greg Manning, whose debut
instrumental single "Dance With You" reached #1 on
The Smooth Jazz Top 20 with Allen Kepler in 2013. Manning
recently finished mastering his label debut for an new upcoming release.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, the multi-talented keyboardist studied
piano and film scoring at Berklee College of Music in Boston before
returning to Switzerland to establish himself as a composer and producer. He
made his debut in the U.S. as keyboardist for Brian McKnight's "Back At One"
tour, then toured extensively for a decade as keyboardist and music director
for Grammy nominated artist Jonathan Butler. Manning has also performed with
Gerald Albright, Will Downing, Richard Elliot, Chante Moore and Kirk Whalum, among others.
ORIGINAL MEMBER JESSICA CLEAVES PASSED AWAY
Jessica Cleaves replaced Sherry Scott after quitting then-popular
quartet Friends Of Distinction. She appeared on both EWF albums Last
Days And Time and Head To The Sky. In 1973, by the time EWF went in to record Open
Your Eyes, Jessica Cleaves had left, disappearing one night after a gig in Boston. As it
turned out, she'd gotten married, moved to Detroit, and later went on to work with George
Clinton. Maurice decided not to replace her with another female singer. She did an album
(?) back in 1978 produced by Walter 'Junie' Morrison from Clinton's P-Funk army.
Jessica can also be heard on both "George Clinton Presents Our Gang Funky"
(1989) and Fred Wesley's 1995 album, "Say Blow by Blow Backwards". Check out the
solowork section. Jessica Cleaves passed away
in Los Angeles on May 5th 2014. She was 65. [Check out the
PHILIP BAILEY WALKS THROUGH EWF
IN NEW BOOK
all his accomplishments in EWF, which range from multiplatinum album sales
and Grammy awards to a coveted spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
singer Philip Bailey has always viewed the band as a means to an end.
"It's given me a platform to meet and help so many people, to learn a lot of
new things and grow, and writing the book really kind of revealed that to
me," said Bailey, whose new biography "Shining Star" chronicles his life in
(and outside of) the 45-year-old funk/R&B institution.
"It was eerie, really, because it's like in an accident where your life
flashes before your eyes. Writing a book like this allowed me to go to some
places I haven't been for quite some time."
In fact, it wasn't even his idea. "I didn't think I had a story to tell," he
said. "But I was touring with (producer/musician) David Foster, and at his
60th birthday party a few years back a book agent asked if I wanted to do
"In the past when people have suggested that, I've just kind of shoved it
off as being a slight compliment. But, sure enough, that following year the
agent called me and said, 'Here's the two guys you're going to work with.' "
Those guys were Keith and Kent Zimmerman, identical twins from Oakland,
Calif., who have penned nearly 20 books together on subjects ranging from
the Hell's Angels to co-written autobiographies of Alice Cooper and Trace
Bailey studied bass and percussion and sang in gospel choirs up through his
time at Denver's East High School, eventually playing gigs at area bars and
nightclubs multiple nights a week before he was old enough to drink alcohol.
He witnessed the swirling elements of late 1960s pop culture as race and
spirituality became mainstream topics of discussion. is journey eventually
brought him to Earth, Wind & Fire, which Maurice White had founded in 1969
and which Bailey joined in 1972 after moving to Los Angeles. The band, which
had begun combining mysticism with a smooth but experimental take on rock,
funk, R&B and soul, soared on Bailey's versatile musicianship and effortless
Bailey's solo career hit new heights with his second album, "Chinese Wall,"
which spawned the hit single "Easy Lover" (with buddy Phil Collins) in 1984.
But as chronicled in the chapter "Wandering the Wilderness," Bailey's
confidence also faltered as Earth, Wind & Fire faced smaller audiences and
changing tastes in the 1980s and '90s.
"I didn't want to write a book that just flattered me or sounded
braggadocious, so I tried to put a lot in there about what was going on
around me politically or culturally," he said. "And the other thing is, the
story continues. I never put a ceiling on what I'm going to do or where I'm
going or where God's going to lead me."
it on Amazon]
SONGWRITER BELOYD TAYLOR PASSING
Taylor passed away last week. Taylor was responsible for the EWF songs
"Getaway", "Lady Sun", "You Are A Winner", "Spread Your Love", "The Changing
Times" and "Heart To Heart". He started out as a member of the
Cleveland-based group S.O.U.L. before going solo. As far as I know, he only
released the 7" single "Get Into Your Life" b/w "Today All Day" on the 20th
Century label in 1977.
NOW, THEN & FOREVER ALBUM
new album Now, Then & Forever (Sony Music) was released 10.
September 2013. It is available on CD, LP and DL in several different versions.
The standard CD/LP version has 10 tracks.
Target CD version has 2 bonus tracks
"Hero As He Rose"
and "Whirlwind", both brand new.
Best Buy CD version has 2 different bonus tracks "Can't Hide Love (Masters at
Work Remix) and "Shining Star" (DJ Jin Asakusa Samba Remix), both lifted from
the 2002 CD "Essential EW&F Remixes".
are also 2 different double CD sets. The "Deluxe Edition" bonus
disc contains a mini Best Of EWF with 6 tracks. The "Special Edition" bonus
disc contains 7 tracks and is entitled "The Best Of EW&F -
Icon Selects", where Maurice White, Pharrell, The Roots, Lenny Kravitz, Clive Davis, Raphael Saadiq and
Andre 3000 have selected their favourite EWF track. [Album
review and tracklist]
WONDERLAND - THE SPIRIT OF EWF
great document of the wide reach of EWF at the end of the 70s that seemed to
touch most of the soul and jazz world. The set's a much-needed look at the
way that energy from EWF flowed out to so many others too as the group's
tunes were frequently covered, its members frequently worked with other
artists, and Maurice White frequently lent his production talents to others
in the studio. A killer set of tracks incl. "Got To Find My Way" by Pockets,
"Tequila Mockingbird" by Dee Dee Bridgewater, "Let's Get Together" by
Paulinho DaCosta, "City Lights" by Valerie Carter, "Ancient Source" by
Caldera, "Answer To My Prayer" by Alton McClain & Destiny, "Let Love Groove
Me" by Syliva St.James, "The Boy I Left Behind" by Deniece Williams, "Glow
Love" by Mighty Clouds Of Joy, "And I Do" by Abraham Laboriel, "I Waited" by
Blue Magic, "Dream Come True" by Stargard, and "Theme For Relana" by Gene
MAURICE WHITE IN LAWSUIT
Wind & Fire's founding member Maurice White together with Sony Music, have
been accused of neglecting to pay Charles Stepney, who produced some of
EWF's greatest hits. Stepney died in 1976, so his children are suing White
for royalties they claim their dad never received. Stepney was responsible
for classics as "Shining Star", "Devotion", "Sing a Song" and "Mighty, Mighty". The
producer was also an arranger, songwriter and musician who achieved great
success in all four areas during the 60s and 70s. He worked with Ramsey
Lewis, Chaka Khan, The Dells and The Emotions among others. Stevie Wonder,
Elton John and Terry Callier have made it known that they were heavily
influenced by Stepney's talents. One of EWF's greatest songs, "Spirit" was a
tribute to Stepney.
The estate claims EW&F and their label Sony haven't paid out any royalties
in the last 40 years, and that they are entitled to that money because of an
oral agreement between Charles Stepney and Maurice White. White has been
responding that there was no oral agreement and that Stepney was paid
everything he was owed when he was alive. White wants the judge to dismiss
the lawsuit and says "if they were owed money, why didn't they sue decades
The judge has yet to rule in the case.
SOUL TRAIN LEGEND AWARD
Wind & Fire received the prestigious Soul Train Legend Award, November 17th
in Atlanta, Georgia. This year is EW&F 40th anniversary and what a fitting
way to celebrate. With six Grammy awards under their belt, the recognition
by Soul Train of the legendary status is well deserved.
Receiving the award were; Verdine White, Phillip Bailey, Ralph Johnson who
accepted the award on behalf of the band.
Wind & Fire has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the
Vocal Group Hall of Fame, proving that their success is long standing.
NEW GUITAR PLAYER
reasons unknown, Vadim Zilberstein has left EWF. Replacing him on guitar is
Morris O'Connor. O'Connor has been recording with artists like Stevie
Wonder, Gap Band, Booker T Jones, Grover Washington Jr., Teena Marie, Montel
Jordan, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Oleta Adams, Jazz Crusaders, Teddy
Pendergrass, Jody Watley, Snoop Doggie Dog, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez.
He has also recorded with former EWF guitarist Al McKay's L.A. All
THE COLUMBIA MASTERS BOX SET
newly mastered CDs from EWF's career on Columbia Records. Plus bonus disk of
rarities, instrumentals and unreleased tracks. Supervised by EW&F's founder
Maurice White. Each album packaged in a replica mini-LP sleeve reproducing
that albums original cover art.
Earth, Wind & Fire's horn-powered hit machine represents the best in pop
melodies, harmonizing voices, funky syncopation and rhythms of the world.
During their heyday in the 70s, they became one of music's most beloved
groups with catchy songs like "September," "Shining Star," "Let's Groove,"
"Boogie Wonderland," "Sing a Song," "Can't Hide Love," "Reasons" and "After
the Love Is Gone." EWF was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in
2000, and The Columbia Masters demonstrates why the group became the
soundtrack for 20th century American life.
The box set includes::
- 15 of the band's classic albums, newly mastered for superior sound.
- Original LP jackets.
- 40-page booklet with photos and commentary by Maurice White.
- Newly compiled bonus disk with:
- 2 unreleased tracks from the Touch The World sessions
- 2 live performances ("Getaway" and "In the Stone") recorded in Rio de
Janeiro in 1980.
- Rare instrumental versions of "Let's Groove" and "Boogie Wonderland".
- Maurice White's unmistakable productions for Neil Diamond, Ramsey Lewis,
Jennifer Holiday and Barbra Streisand.
EWF Columbia albums:
01. Last Days and Timee
02. Head to the Sky
03. Open Our Eyes
04. That's the Way of the World
07. All 'N All
08. Best of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. 1
09. I Am
13. Electric Universe
14. Touch the World
16. Constellations - The Universe of EWF