Fred White, Drummer for Earth, Wind & Fire, Dies at 67

Fred White, the original drummer for Earth, Wind & Fire who played on their 1980 hit “Shining Star,” has died at age 67, his brother Verdine White announced on Instagram late Sunday.

“Our family is saddened today with the loss of an amazing and talented family member. Our beloved brother Frederick Eugene “Freddie” White,” he wrote, adding, “He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels!”

Maurice White, who shared lead vocals with Philip Bailey, died in 2016; Monte White, who was the group’s tour manager, in 2020.

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Verdine noted that Fred was “a child protégé, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the young age of 16 years old.”

He concluded his post, “He will live in our hearts forever, rest in power beloved Freddie!! …
Soar high baby bro, we love you to the shining and back!”

Drummer Sheila E remembered Fred White in her own Instagram post.

“We are truly saddened by the loss of one of my favorite drummers of all time Freddy white from earth, wind, and fire. He was a mentor, an amazing drummer, and a man who had the biggest heart. To be able to stand next to him and watch his technique and listen to his playing was remarkable! I will never forget it. A true icon who will be missed. Uncle, u will be extremely missed. Thank u for Sharing with me ur gift. I love u,” she wrote.

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Questlove also paid tribute to the late drummer, calling him, “the spark that inspired me to drum,” adding in part, “The live shows of Earth Wind & Fire were super epic because (along w Pfunk) they were the first out the gate to introduce theatrics & magic for black concerts levitating & laser & explosions n’ whatnot. His elevation to stage level from the ground WAS epic for 81 trust me on this. So epic.”

Fred, who also played with Donny Hathaway, left the band in the 1980s. He reunited with them when they was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

Earth, Wind & Fire shared a video of Fred enthusiastically playing a drum solo to Instagram with the message, “Rest in love.”

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