Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2017 Contents Earth, Wind & Fire goes on the road this sum-
mer with some classic hits, a new touring partner
and lingering heartache.
The hits include September, Shining Star and Boogie
Wonderland, while they'll share the stage with the
band Chic, featuring Nile Rodgers. The sadness comes
from the loss last year of their founder Maurice White.
"We're still healing," said drummer Ralph Johnson,
one of three original members still playing the band's
"I think the way we've dealt with it has been to
do the music."
Concertgoers can expect a teary memorial to White
amid the disco grooves and horn-driven funk. The
band has always honoured its missing member---White
stopped touring in 1995---but this time the section
has a final kiss to it.
"It's not something you get over. Maurice will al-
ways be part of us. We cut our teeth on Earth, Wind
and Fire. He was our mentor, our leader, our Elvis,
our John Lennon, all in one guy," said White's brother,
Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic embark on their Live
Nation tour July 12 in Oakland, California, and then
hits New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta,
Boston and Washington, DC, before concluding Au-
gust 22 in Detroit.
It's called 2054 The Tour and it looks backward
to the heyday of the infamous disco Studio 54 and
to a shiny, electronic future. Each venue will be re-
configured to make it easier for the bands to interact
with dancing fans.
Each night, after unleashing a top-heavy string of
hits, Earth, Wind & Fire get serious during the White
tribute. It comes during the song That's the Way of
the World, when a video memorial of Maurice White
plays. He died at 74 last year after suffering from Par-
Johnson and Verdine White---joined by fellow
original member, singer Philip Bailey---said they
try to avoid looking at each other during the show's
memorial part for fear that tears will fall. Many fans
stop to pull out cellphones and capture the moment.
"Everything is fun, fun, fun, fun. Then we get to
that section and that's when the show gets heart. All
we see is just phones," said White. "It's heavy. It's
deep. It's beautiful, though."
Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, played the 2005 Super Bowl
half-time show and has six Grammys. The band's
Got to Get You Into My Life was on President Barack
Obama's first Spotify playlist.
Each generation seems to rediscover the band, in
part because popular culture can't get enough of its
bouncy vibe. Last year, in one November weekend,
the band had three songs in the world's top two mov-
ies---Trolls and Doctor Strange.
We're part of peoples' lives. As they say, 'the
soundtrack of their lives'---literally," said White.
"They always want pictures: 'Can I take this for my
dad or my mom?' 'Will you sign this for my dad?' We
get that all the time."
Satellite and classic rock radio keep the band's hits
alive and online services like iTunes, SoundCloud and
Shazam have made their work accessible. A band that
started on vinyl turns out to be thriving in the digital
"They can get to us. They can discover us. And
rediscover us and rediscover us and turn a friend on
to us," said White.
"So when we're doing the concert, they're Goog-
ling and they're buying songs they didn't even know
that existed. So actually I think it's been a big help."
Earth, Wind & Fire and Chic hit the road prov-
ing that nostalgia acts are still reliable tour sellers.
Other bands from the 1970s like Queen, Foreigner,
Boston, Aerosmith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Billy Joel and
Rod Stewart are also touring this year.
"I think people will always be enamored with bands
that can really play---live performance. You can't beat
that," Johnson said.
"There's something you get from a live performance
you can't get from a record or a CD. The experience
is very different."
How long will they keep at it? Until the boogie
"Maurice wanted a band that could play all gen-
res of music and a band that would not be standing
still onstage. We're always in motion, there's always
something going on," said Johnson.
"We're just carrying on the vision. This is the legacy.
The three of us---Verdine, Philip and myself---we're
carrying on for as long, as I tell people, we put butts
in the seats." (AP)
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 8, 2017
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Earth, Wind & Fire take to the
road with hits and sadness
Verdine White, from left, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind and Fire.
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