"Symphonic funk", "progressive funk", "R&B, soul and pop"... Even today, the musical style of the band Earth, Wind and Fire remains unclassifiable. If its founder, Maurice White, claimed the heritage of the great jazzmen, the music he produced, far from being elitist, made crowds dance all over the world. Brazilian, Cuban, African or Caribbean influences, tracks such as September, Boogie Wonderland or Let's Groove set the rhythm and propelled the group to the biggest venues and stadiums around the world.
With disco-style resonant bass lines, strong percussion, funky guitars and a prestigious brass section, the band doesn't stop at dancefloor melodies. Its musicians are true technicians whose talent is recognised even by jazz lovers. Associated with the extraordinary science of the harmony of Maurice White's baritone and Philippe Bailey's falsetto voices, they write songs as complex as their success is popular.
At the height of their career, their concerts became over-the-top shows. Dressed in their most beautiful costumes, they distributed generous doses of sequins and refused nothing. Whether it be grandiose decorations against the backdrop of Egyptian pyramids, pyrotechnics or laser light effects. Until they disappear entirely in a pyramid, helped by the magician Doug Henning and his assistant, a certain David Coperfield.
If the band slowly declined along with the funk, it will have changed the history of American pop by breaking some of the racial taboos that surrounded the 70s. And left its mark on a whole generation that still hums along to its hit songs by sketching out a few dance steps.
Newly named Earth, Wind and Fire by its leader Maurice White, the band releases its eponymous debut album and already the critics are confused. Rolling Stone will say "I don't know how to classify this band. Afro-gospel-jazz-blues-rock ? ». However, the style still doesn't completely please its leader, who changes almost all its musicians the following year.
The band rose in power throughout the 70s to reach its peak with That's The Way of The World (1975), then the track Septembre (1978) from their best of. In 1979, they filled Wembley five nights in a row with monumental shows. That same year, they were the first black band to play to a sold-out crowd at New York's prestigious Madison Square Garden.
The rhythm of the tours finally got the better of the group for the first time in 1984. The break would last three years before a strong comeback with the Touch the World album, "one of their most difficult and convincing records" according to the Boston Globe.
At the end of the 2000s, the group's reputation was boosted after the election of Barack Obama, who invited them to be among the first artists to perform at the White House. However, suffering from Parkinson's disease, Maurice White increasingly space albums and tours.
In 2016, the band's founder and lifelong singer will retire. He passed away at the age of 74, leaving behind him a lasting imprint on the musical world we know today. Earth, Wind and Fire inspired many artists, from David Guetta to Puff Daddy, Jay-Z and Björk. Despite this huge loss, the band continues to perform, especially in France in 2018.
What an incredible show ! I was a teenager in the age of disco and I listened to this mythical group. I didn't expect to see them playing to a full house again. The hall very quickly turned into a dance floor, the audience sang and still boogied on the way out. A concert that really puts a smile on your face !
Emblematic band of the funk and disco wave of the 70's and 80's, Earth, Wind and Fire knew how to bring together two things we don't often see in the music industry. The first, a technicality, precision and complex writing carried by the jazz influences of its founder Maurice White. The second, songs of undisputed popular success, filling stadiums and making the whole world dance.
With its rhythmic base of dancing suppleness, the impact of its wind section and a very sure science of vocal harmony, the American band Earth, Wind & Fire was, from the mid-1970s and early 1980s, one of the most renowned funk and pop bands. Thanks to their international success with numerous songs including Mighty Mighty, Shining Star, Getaway, Saturday Nite and Fantasy, not to mention spectacular concerts !